Candido Camero

Master Conguero

 

Now in his nineties, LP's elder statesman Candido Camero touch on congas is still sure, his time is solid and his sound is uniquely his own. Born in 1921 in a Havana barrio called El Cerro, Candido was initially a multi-instrumentalist, showing facility on tres, guitar, and bass-these being key instruments in the popular Son music of the day. A switch to bongos and congas led to a six-year spell with the CMQ Radio Orchestra and a residency at the famed Cabaret Tropicana.

Heralded as the father of the technique of coordinated independence, Candido had further accomplishments. For one, he pioneered the use of two congas and later three, whereas in past congueros were content with a single drum. His playing became distinctive owing to a tendency to tune, when possible, to the melody of the song. Equipped with three congas and a bongo, he was able to complement horn, piano, and bass lines with harmonic contributions. In fact, when he recorded "Tea for Two" with Joe Loco, Candido played the melody on congas and bongos.

A move to New York City in 1946 put him in high demand hot property and he soon began working with such premier jazz and Latin artists of our time, including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Machito and his Afro-Cubans, and Mario Bauza. Candido's uncanny ability to anchor with flare bands of all sizes, from trios to orchestras earned him the respect of musicians and critics.

Further recognition came in 1954, when Candido joined the Stan Kenton Big Band and toured coast to coast. He became a familiar figure on television, appearing with Tommy Dorsey, Patti Page, Tony Bennett, Charo, Machito, Tito Puente, Lena Horne, and Dizzy Gillespie, on such shows as The Jackie Gleason Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, Mike Wallace, and on many specials, including some as far a field as Panama and Tokyo. He soon eclipsed all other congueros in terms of popularity, including the late Chano Pozo. In 1954, pianist Billy Taylor wrote, "I have not heard anyone who even approaches the wonderful balance between jazz and Cuban elements that Candido demonstrates."

Candido's long list of recorded work includes sessions with Lena Horne, Billy Taylor, Buddy Rich, Art Blakey, Count Basie, Elvin Jones, George Shearing, Lionel Hampton, Stan Getz, Wes Montgomery, Woody Herman, Doc Severinson, Marian McPartland, Lalo Schifrin. Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Charlie Parker, and Antonio Carlos Jobim-these in addition to a number of dates as leader.

Today, Candido continues to perform, throughout the world, including the reunion album Inolvidable, which pairs him with the great Son singer Graciela Perez, whom he first met in the Forties when both performed with Machito.

The master registers his unique touch on a very special drum. Modeled after the LP Original Model Conga, the Candido Camero Original Model drums, available in Quinto, Conga, and Tumbadora, features a shimmering white fiberglass shell and also a classic girth, which remains unaltered since the inception of the Original Model in the sixties. A special Candido Camero faceplate and drumhead complete the image.

<{misc flash required video}>
Candido Camero's 90th Birthday Celebration Concert
Candido Camero interview for congahead.com
Candido Camero's Conga Solo at The NAMM Show (2013)
(U)nity performs Conga Jam for congahead.com
BILLY TAYLOR  AND CANDIDO CAMERO & MAMBO INN