August 12, 2005

SO THERE MUST BE A BACH OF THE BONGOS?:

The Mozart of the congas is a legend and a gentleman: His might not be a household name, but Cuban artist Cándido Camero long ago took conga playing to a new level. Tonight, he brings his show to Miami. (LYDIA MARTIN, 8/12/05, Miami Herald)

Conga legend Cándido Camero inches around his tidy Upper West Side apartment, cane in hand, in search of this memento and that.

He speaks like he walks. Cautiously. Unhurriedly.

But put him behind his three glossy white congas and suddenly, he's not 84 anymore. Suddenly, he's not hunched over anymore. Suddenly, he's on fire.

People talk about drummers making their congas sing. Camero invented the concept. In the early 1950s, he was the first to play two, then three congas at the same time. Before him, cats played just one. He tuned them differently and coaxed melody out of them, fingers dancing on skins like a piano. In a famed 1950s recording with pianist Joe Loco, he made three congas and a bongo sing Tea for Two.

His congas sang for everybody -- Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, La Lupe, Celia Cruz, Machito and his Afro-Cubans.

Tonight, he offers a rare Miami performance. Saturday night, he attends the Miami premiere of the documentary Candido: Hands of Fire.

''This is a true living legend,'' said Iván Acosta, the New York filmmaker who produced and directed the documentary. 'One day he was showing me old photographs and I started thinking, `It's a pity more people don't know who this man is.' ''

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 12, 2005 11:04 AM
Comments

Could be. There was a Bobo of the Tubas, after all. Maybe they could all jam together.

Posted by: joe shropshire at August 12, 2005 11:36 AM
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