Cano was born in Los Angeles on June 6, 1927. His mother was Mexican-American, and his father, a bass guitarist, was Mexican. Cano's grandfather played with the Mexico City Symphony. Cano had classical piano lessons from the age of five. He also had training for the bass led by his grandfather and others, as well as trombone lessons. He began working in local bands, playing in nightclubs, in 1943.
Later life and career
After two years in the Army from 1945, he played in a band led by Miguelito Valdés. He soon met vocalist Herb Jeffries, with whom he collaborated periodically for the next decade. Cano led his own bands from 1948, in addition to sideman work. Cano led albums in the 1950s and 1960s for several labels, including Atco, Reprise, and RCA. He also used contemporary dance crazes to help promote himself.
Cano composed a large number of pieces. "While many of his peers concentrated on the peerless thrust of Latin rhythms, Cano hardly ignored this component but seemed equally intent on emphasizing the kind of complex, provocative harmonic and melodic structures associated with modern jazz."