[JPL] Carlos Valdéz-the legendary Patato has passed at 81

Arturo arturo893 at qwest.net
Tue Dec 4 23:35:17 EST 2007

I am saddened to have to pass along this extremely sad information I have
just received(I knew there was a reason to be at the station late Tuesday)
Please forgive any typos as my heart is heavy and my eyes are moist as I
write this off the top of my head

Carlos Valdéz, the legendary Patato passed away in NYC on Tuesday December
4th, 2007-he was 81. "Patato" and not potato as often written is Cuban slang
for "shorty"-a stump. He died of respiratory failure, Patato was a heavy
smoker since he was a young teen. Born in La Habana, Cuba on November 4th
1926 patao is considered one of the most melodic percussionists ever and one
of the most mythical characters as well. he fashioned himself as quite a
chef and was famous for feeding dozens of fellow musicans and close friends
in his Brooklyn home after gigs from the wee wee hours of the morning into
the next afternoon. he helped developed the tuneable congas and showed
Bridgette Bardot how to dance the mambo in the closing moments of the late
50s film, "And God Created Woman"

In Cuba Patato was played with some of the finest bands starting out as a
teenger in the 1940s, he created the "penguin dance" while with the Conjunto
Casino in the 50s when he would appear on a daily Cuban television show, he
would take advantage of his slight built and jump on top of the congas and
do a penguin dance to the delight of the live audience and viewers. In 1955
his pals NEA Jazz Master Cándido Camero and Mongo Santamaría sponsored his
immigration to NYC. Mongo who was with the Tito Puente band at the time got
some of his band mates and others to go to the SMC/Coda studios and record 2
78rpms as a demo to show off the skills of Patato, that led to his work with
Kenny Dorham on the landmark Afro-Cuban date for Blue Note, from there he
went on to be with Herbie Mann for many years and the rest is easily
encountered in any quality jazz information publication.

Patato died on December 4th, a significant date for Cubans and for Patato
especially as the date is Changó Day, Santa(saintess)Barbara Day, one of the
most powerful and important dieties of the Afro-Cuban religious pantheon,
Patato was a son of changó, "hijo de changó". One of the finest performances
of Patato is with the Tito Puente Latin Percussion Jazz Ensemble, Live at
Montreux 1980. There is both a CD and DVD of that legendary concert on the
LP label. Señor Valdéz' last performance was in early November at the San
Francisco Jazz Festival when he played with the Conga Kings(Candyman
Camero-Giovani Hidalgo and Carlos). On his flight back to NYC he took
gravely ill forcing the flight to land in Cleveland, after an extended stay
in a Cleveland hospital, he was setn home to NYC in the care of his wife
Julia and soon lapsed into another respiratory failure eventually claiming
Carlos Valdéz-the immortal Patato. Here's a anecdote from a close friend,
compatriot and band mate-violinist Alfredo de la Fé " One of the top
percussionist in the World. Armando Peraza once told me that when la
Comparsa(conga ensemble during carnaval) El Cocuye came by the streets of
Havana you could hear the quinto(drum) 20 blocks away before any other
instrument. It was a small giant playing that quinto "Patato"

Arturo Gómez
Music Director, jazz89KUVO
The Oasis In The City
Colorado's First HD FM Radio Station
Celebrating 12 Years of Live Performances!
2006 & 2005 Jazz Station of the Year!!

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