Artist Profiles: Cándido Camero

Cándido Camero at Satalla in 2004. Photo by Guler Ugur

Cándido de Guerra Camero, better known as Cándido Camero, was born in 1921 in a Havana barrio called El Cerro. Cándido was initially a multi-instrumentalist, showing dexterity on tres, guitar, and bass-these being key instruments in the popular son music of the day.

A switch to bongos and congas led to a six-year period with the CMQ Radio Orchestra and a residency at the famed Cabaret Tropicana. Heralded as the father of the technique of coordinated independence, Cándido had further accomplishments. For one, he pioneered the use of two congas and later three, whereas in past congueros were content with a single drum.

His playing became distinctive owing to a tendency to tune, when possible, to the melody of the song. Equipped with three congas and a bongo, he was able to complement horn, piano, and bass lines with harmonic contributions.

In 1954, pianist Billy Taylor wrote, “I have not heard anyone who even approaches the wonderful balance between jazz and Cuban elements that Cándido demonstrates.”

Cándido’s long list of recorded work includes sessions with Lena Horne, Billy Taylor, Buddy Rich, Art Blakey, Count Basie, Elvin Jones, George Shearing, Lionel Hampton, Stan Getz, Wes Montgomery, Woody Herman, Doc Severinson, Marian McPartland, Lalo Schifrin. Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Charlie Parker, and Antonio Carlos Jobim-these in addition to a number of dates as leader.

Camero received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in 2008.


Candido featuring Al Cohn (ABC-Paramount, 1956)
The Volcanic (ABC-Paramount, 1956)
Latin Fire – The Big Beat of Candido (ABC-Paramount, 1959)
In Indigo (ABC-Paramount, 1960)
Conga Soul (Roulette, 1962)
Candido’s Comparsa (ABC-Paramount, 1963)
Thousand Finger Man (Solid State, 1969)
Beautiful (Blue Note, 1970)
Brujerias de Candido (Discos Fuentes, 1971)
Drum Fever (Polydor, 1973)
Dancin’ and Prancin’ (Salsoul, 1979)
Giovanni Hidalgo, Candido, Patato Valdes – The Conga Kings (Chesky, 2000)
Candido & Graciela – Inolvidable (Chesky, 2004)
Hands of Fire – Manos de fuego (Latin Jazz USA, 2008)
The Master (Chesky, 2014)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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