1926 - 2007
On December 4, 2007 Cuban percussionist, Carlos "Patato" Valdez
passed away in a hospital outside of Cleveland, Ohio due to pulmonary
problems stemming from lung disease. He was 81 years old.
I first saw Patato perform in the mid 1960s when he was working with
Willie Bobo. It was love at first sight. I adored
him. His playing and his clown-like antics. I came to become a close
friend of his and wherever he performed I would be there. Myself a Jew
living in New Jersey would have been rejected by his crowd of rumberos
had it not been for him saying I was "cool". It was an instant "kosher" stamp
and I became known and respected by his inner circle.
Knowing him taught me about hipness that served me well in designing
instruments to meet his and other percussionist's needs. LP named a
conga series after him and in 1974 he agreed to make the first of 3
recordings for me as a leader. They were Authority, Ready For Freddy,
and Bata y Rumba.
In 1979 Patato, along with Tito Puente formed the backbone of a Latin
Jazz Group I assembled. The reason I formed this band was to create
a demand for LP percussion products in Europe where I had virtually
no business. The effect was almost immediate and 3 European and one
Japanese tours completed my involvement with presenting live music.
LP sales grew rapidly in Europe. Japan took a bit longer. The last performance
took place in July 1980 at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
As a result of my working with Patato and the Latin Percussion Jazz
Ensemble far more people around the world began to play Latin percussion
instruments than ever before.
The world lost a percussion legend who lived each day to the fullest.
Click here to see a gallery of Carlos "Patato" Valdez
Click here to see a gallery of Carlos "Patato" Valdez Memorial photos
Click here to see a video of the rumba
Click here to see a video of the Conga Kings Manteca