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Cándido Camero (1921–2020), pioneering Latin jazz percussionist

by Linnea Crowther

Cándido Camero was a percussionist who is considered one of the fathers of Latin jazz, best known for his conga and bongo drumming.

Pioneering rhythms

A native of Cuba, where he played regularly at the famed Tropicana Club, Camero came to New York in 1947. There, he began introducing his Latin rhythms into contemporary jazz music, becoming the first jazz percussionist to play conga drums as he helped develop the genre of Latin jazz. Camero was also the first to play multiple congas at once – though this is common now, he pioneered the technique of tuning his congas to different notes and playing melodies on them. He performed and recorded with jazz notables including Dizzy Gillespie (1917 – 1993), Tony Bennett, and Stan Kenton (1911 – 1979), and he appeared on “The Jackie Gleason Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Camero’s 2004 album “Inolvidable” was nominated for a Grammy Award. He received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in 2008 and was honored with a Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

Tributes to Cándido Camero

Full obituary: NPR

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