Candido Camero

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Newly minted Jazz Master Candido Camero
By Ed Berger
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Candido Camero
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Candido Camero and Graciela Perez

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The grand master of the congas, Candido Camero (who is widely known simply as Candido) is in his late 80s yet still remains at the top of his field. Born in 1921 in Havana, Candido originally played guitar, tres and bass before settling on congas and bongos. He was a professional by the time he was 14 and worked for six years with the CMQ Radio Orchestra and at the Cabaret Tropicana. Candido was a pioneer in utilizing two (and later on three) congas which he tuned rather than just using one. He first visited New York in 1946 as the accompanist for a dance team. Candido recorded in Cuba with Machito before moving to New York in 1952 at Dizzy Gillespie’s urging. Candido immediately became very busy, working with such major musicians as Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Machito and Mario Bauza, being in great demand in both jazz and the Latin music field.

During 1953-54 he was in the Billy Taylor Trio and in 1954 he toured with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Candido also appeared on many television shows, performing with Tommy Dorsey, Tony Bennett, Tito Puente, Lena Horne and others. In addition, Candido has recorded with Kenny Burrell, Buddy Rich, Art Blakey, Count Basie, George Shearing, Erroll Garner, Gene Ammons, Lionel Hampton, Stan Getz, Wes Montgomery, Lalo Schifrin, Sonny Rollins, Ray Bryant, Charles Mingus and Woody Herman among many others. He also had some hits during the disco era although he has mostly played Latin jazz during the past two decades. In recent times Candido has recorded with the late Patato Valdez and Giovanni Hidalgo as the Conga Kings.

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