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Candido Camero

Candido Camero

Cuban percussionist
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Cuban percussionist
Countries Cuba
Occupations Jazz musician Percussionist
Gender male
Birth 22 April 1921 (Havana)
Star sign Taurus
The details

Cándido de Guerra Camero, also known simply as Candido (born April 22, 1921) is a Cuban-born percussionist (mainly conga and bongo) and the most recorded conga drummer in the history of jazz. He also plays the tres (Cuban mandolin), drums, and acoustic bass. He has worked in many genres of popular music from pop, rock, R&B and disco to Afro-Cuban dance music and Latin jazz. He is the first player to develop techniques to play multiple conga drums, coordinated independence and the use of multiple percussion, one player playing a variety of percussion instruments simultaneously.


Early in his career, Camero recorded in his native Cuba with many of the early pioneers of the son movement as well as being the conga drummer for the Tropicana night club in Havana for eight years. He first appeared in NYC in the musical review, Tidbits, at the Plymouth Theater on Broadway in 1946 backing up the Cuban dance team of Carmen and Rolando. In 1948 he made his first U.S. recording with Machito and His Afro-Cubans on the tune, "El Rey Del Mambo." as well as working with Dizzy Gillespie. During 1953–54, he was in the Billy Taylor Trio and in 1954 he performed and recorded with Stan Kenton.

He also enjoyed success during the disco era of the 1970s, most notably with the Babatunde Olatunji-penned track "Jingo" from his Dancin' and Prancin' album, which he recorded for Salsoul Records in 1979. The album has also been acknowledged as an influence and precursor to house music, predating the emergence of the genre by over five years.

Camero was honored with the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in 2008.


As leader

  • 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, c. 1960)
  • Conga Soul (Roulette, 1962)
  • Candido's Comparsa (ABC-Paramount, 1963)
  • Thousand Finger Man (Solid State, 1969, reissued by Blue Note)
  • Beautiful (Blue Note, 1970)
  • Brujerias de Candido/Candido's Latin McGuffa's Dust (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 (Live) (Latin Jazz USA, 2008)
  • The Master (Chesky, 2014)

As sideman

With Gene Ammons

  • The Happy Blues (Prestige, 1956)
  • The Boss Is Back! (Prestige, 1969)
  • Brother Jug! (Prestige, 1969)

With Dizzy Gillespie

  • Afro (Norgran, 1954)
  • Gillespiana (Verve, 1960)
  • The Melody Lingers On (Limelight, 1966)

With Billy Taylor

  • The Billy Taylor Trio with Candido (Prestige, 1955)

With Bennie Green

  • Bennie Green Blows His Horn (1955)

With Art Blakey

  • Drum Suite (Columbia, 1957)

With Kenny Burrell

  • Introducing Kenny Burrell (Blue Note, 1956)

With Don Elliott

  • The Don Elliott Octet Featuring Candido - Jamaica Jazz (ABC-Paramount, 1958)

With Stan Kenton

  • Kenton Showcase (Capitol, 1954)

With the Lecuona Cuban Boys

  • Dance Along with the Lecuona Cuban Boys (ABC-Paramount, 1959)

With Randy Weston

  • Uhuru Afrika (Roulette, 1960)
  • Tanjah (Polydor, 1973)

With Sonny Rollins

  • What's New? (RCA Victor, 1962)

With Norman Granz' Jazz at the Philharmonic

  • JatP in Europe with Dizzy Gillespie / J.J. Johnson / Stan Getz / Leo Wright / Art Davis / Chuck Lampkin / Lalo Schifrin / Candido (Verve, 1963)

With Wynton Kelly

  • It's All Right! (1964)

With Grant Green

  • His Majesty King Funk (1965)

With Illinois Jacquet

  • Spectrum (Argo, 1965)

With Gary McFarland

  • The In Sound (Verve, 1965)

With Wes Montgomery

  • Bumpin' (1965)

With Tico All-Stars

  • Descargas at the Village Gate (Tico, 1966)

With Bobby Hutcherson

  • Now! (Blue Note, 1969)

With Elvin Jones

  • Poly-Currents (Blue Note, 1969)
  • Coalition (Blue Note, 1970)
  • New Agenda (Vanguard, 1975)

With Ellen McIlwaine

  • Honky Tonk Angel (1972)
  • We the People (1973)

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