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Cuban Conga Master Carlos “Patato” Valdés Dies at 81

Carlos Valdés, a Cuban percussionist whose career spanned some six decades, died in Cleveland on December 4th at age 81. The cause was respiratory failure.

Valdés, whose nickname was “Patato,” made his mark playing congas for such giants as Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Machito and Art Blakey. An Afro-Cuban jazz pioneer, he also performed and recorded as a leader for decades, and made some high-profile film appearances, notably in the early Brigitte Bardot vehicle And God Created Woman, in which he gave the actress a mambo lesson.

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