Born into a Cuban family (his maternal grandfather worked as a diplomat in Jamaica at the time of his birth), Carcasses moved with his family back to Cuba aged four, where he was surrounded by the various forms of local music. However, he started out as an opera singer before switching to Cuban music and working as a vocalist at the famous Tropicana nightclub. It was here that he first began to experiment with incorporating scat and bebop influences into his vocal style. By 1960 he was also known as a dancer and athlete (he was Cuba’s Long Jump Champion for that year) and as a multi-instrumentalist (playing trumpet, bass, congas and drums). Later in the decade he travelled, including a year in Paris playing with resident jazz greats Bud Powell and Kenny ‘Klook’ Clarke.
On his return to Cuba Carcasses formed his own jazz group, as well as acting in films and television. In 1980 he organized the first Jazz Plaza Festival, bringing to Cuba a host of international artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Haden and Airto Moreira. The festival became an annual event, with Carcasses and his band performing each year. He also toured extensively throughout Europe and the USA, performing alongside Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri and many other big names of Latin jazz. Jazz Timbero was recorded in Havana in 1997 with an all-star Cuban big band (including members of Irakere and Los Van Van), playing a funky mix of Latin and jazz. His son is Roberto Carcasses the jazz pianist.