August 1, 2021

Legendary Cuban percussionist Cándido Camero dies at 99

07/11/2020 –

Candido Camero.

The legendary percussionist Cándido Camero Guerra, essential in the development of jazz and Afro-Cuban music, died this Saturday, November 7, at his home in the Bronx, New York, at the age of 99.

According to his grandson, Julián, he died in his sleep. Born in the Havana neighborhood of El Cerro on April 22, 1921, Cándido Camero started playing bongoes when he was 4 years old; Later his father taught him to play the tres, an instrument with which he formed Gloria Habanera in the Septet and accompanied great figures such as Ramón Mongo Santamaría and Luciano Chano Well, with which he played the famous song ‘Manteca’.

In 1940 he began to play congas in Havana, joining various jazz formations. In 1946 he settled in the United States, where, already in the 1950s, he began to play with Dizzi Gillespie and Stan Kenton, with whose big band he played three congas at a time when congueros played only one. Cándido felt that he could play melodies with various congas, an instrument that with Arsenio Rodriguez became fixed in his ensemble and little by little in all groups, when before Arsenio it was only used in some moments.

In 2016, at the age of 95, Camero officially said goodbye to the stage, although he assured that he would continue “playing my three congas until God says up to here, because it is my great passion “.

Candido Camero played in his long career with figures such as Machito, Billy Taylor, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Parker, Dinah Washington, Israel López Cachao, George Shearing, Quincy Jones, Charlie Mingus, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, Tito Puente, Chico O’Farrill, Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, Fania All Stars, Celia Cruz, Carlos Patato Valdes, Mongo Santamaría, Gloria Estefan and many more.

That’s how Candido played at 94 years old.