Remembering Candido

 April 22, 1921 – November 07, 2020


A tribute to the influential conga master

Percussionist Candido passed away on Nov. 7, 2020 at the age of 99.

He was born as Candido de Guerra Camero on April 22, 1921 near Havana, Cuba.

Candido started out playing bongos when he was four, learned bass and tres, and began working professionally as a drummer when he was 14, switching his main focus to conga in 1940.

He recorded in Cuba, accompanied the dance team of Carmen and Rolando during 1940-46, and was a member of the house band at the Tropicana Club in Havana during 1947-52.

Dizzy Gillespie heard Candido and persuaded him to move to the U.S.

Candido worked with Gillespie in 1952 and played with him on an occasional basis through the years.

He came to prominence as a member of the Billy Taylor Trio (1953-54), recorded with George Shearing, and toured and recorded with Stan Kenton in 1954.

From then on, Candido was in great demand for record dates with his discography including sessions with Erroll Garner, Gene Ammons, Kenny Burrell, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Dinah Washington, Wes Montgomery and many others (appearing on over 1,000 dates) while also performing at concerts with Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Randy Weston, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria and countless others.

Candido, who also frequently led his own bands, is credited as being one of the first to play congas in a jazz setting and the very first to play multiple congas, tuning them to different notes so he could play melodies.

Candido, who appeared a few years ago with Jane Bunnett in a trio, was active until near the end, always adding energy and excitement to every bandstand.

Here is Candido in 2018 (when he was 97) at a benefit for Puerto Rico that is a Jazz On The Tube production.

-Scott Yanow

African drummer talks about his grandfather adopting multiple drums – for the first time in history

Jazz Forum with Candido on bass and cowbell (2017)



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