Candido, Patato & Totico

Russ Musto By

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Candido Camero

These three discs, featuring two venerable Cuban conga kings, document very different realms of AfroCuban music. The earliest recording, Candido Camero's 1956 date, Candido is one of the first Latino led cubop albums for an American label. Candido, who replaced Chano Pozo in Dizzy Gillespie's Orchestra and went on to play with Stan Kenton and George Shearing, is featured on conga and bongos with a jazz quintet comprised of Al Cohn, Dick Katz, Joe Puma, Whitey Mitchell and Ted Sommer. The repertoire features somewhat standard jazz fare for the period including "Mambo Inn", "Stompin' at the Savoy", "Perdido" and "Poinciana", mixed with popular songs of the day like "Broadway", "Indian Summer" and "Cheek To Cheek", along with a couple of originals with titles that play on the leader's name - Puma's "Candi Bar" and Sommer's "Candido's Camera". The program is swinging and showcases Candido's skill as a soloist as well his ability to spice up a rhythm section, but as a whole the music is more of a mixed marriage - Latin with jazz - than the mulatto offspring of which it is one of the progenitors.

Patato & Totico
Patato & Totico

The eponymous date Patato and Totico is the reissue of a rare 1968 recording documenting the deep roots of AfroCuban music embodied in the street music of the rumba. Sonero Eugenio "Totico" Arrango and conguero Carlos "Patato" Valdes lead an ensemble of percussionists and vocalists through a program of traditional drumming and chanting on secular songs descended from Yoruban Lucumi rituals.

Joined by Cuban legends Arsenio Rodriguez on tres guitar and "Cachao" Lopez on bass, the music takes on a modern improvisational character of such sophistication as to make it relevant to jazz listeners and soloists today, particularly drummers seeking to master complex modern polyrhythms. Latin jazz fans will recognize the call and response dialogue in "Ya Yo E" as the opening of Dizzy Gillespie's "Cubano-be, Cubano-bop", as well as Jorge Ben's "Mas Que Nada". Several other cuts will be familiar through their assimilation into the AfroCuban cannon.

Candido & Graciela

Inolvidable (Unforgettable) is a new recording reuniting Candido with Graciela (Perez), the first lady of AfroCuban jazz, well known for her work with the Machito and Mario Bauza orchestras. The album features an allstar rhythm section including Tito Puente pianist Sonny Bravo; bassist Andy Gonzalez and timbales/bongo master Manny Oquendo, coleaders of the band Libre; and tres guitarist Nelson Gonzalez (producer of the date). Flutist Eddie Perales and violinist Frederico Britos Ruiz fill out the charanga styled band and Yerba Buena singer Xiomara Laugart appears as a special guest vocalist.

The program includes a mix of classic son, mambos, cha-cha-chas and boleros on which Graciela recalls the classic sound of the Palladium Ballroom dance bands. Candido and Andy Gonzalez steal the show with a new arrangement of Candido's "Conga Jam" (referencing "Manteca") that features the conguero's "singing" three conga set in a duet with the bassist that highlights the tonal subtleties inherent in Latin percussion.


Tracks: Mambo Inn, I'll Be Back for More, Stompin' at the Savoy, Candi Bar, Broadway, Perdido, Indian Summer, Candido's Camera, Poinciana, Cheek to Cheek
Personnel: Candido Camero Bongos, Conga, Al Cohn Sax (Tenor), Dick Katz Piano, Whitey Mitchell Bass, Joe Puma Guitar, Teddy Sommer Drums

Patato & Totico

Tracks: Mas Que Nada, Ya Yo E, Ingrato Corazon, Que Linda Va, Nuestro Barrio, A Que la Caer, En el Callejon, Caridad Malda, Rezo Abuca, Dilo Como Yo
Personnel: Eugene "Totico" Arango Vocals, Israel Cachao Lopez Bass, Papaito Stick, Carlos "Patato" Valdes Percussion, Conga


Tracks: Sí Tu Supieras, Cachita, La Vida Es un Sueno, Amor Ciego, Conga Jam, Tu Mi Delirio, Quien Eres Tu, Desvelo, Tu Me Acostumbraste, Contigo en la Distancia, Inolvidable, Pt. 1, Inolvidable, Pt. 2
Personnel: Sonny Bravo Piano, Candido Camero Conga, Andrew Gonzalez Bass, Joseph Julian Gonzalez Vocals, Graciela Vocals, Xiomara Laugart Vocals, Jorge Maldonado Vocals, Manny Oquendo Percussion, Eddie Perales Flute, Frederico Britos Ruiz Violin


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