"Patato" Valdez was not the first percussionist
that I met, but he is someone that I spent more
time with than any other. I met him first when
he was working with Willie Bobo up in Harlem in
a club called Count Basie's. His playing was fast,
the band was super hip and Patato's antics off
stage amazed me. Like standing behind a woman,
yanking her ear lobe and quickly jumping away
so she would never know who did the naughtiness.
Silly stuff, but it caught my attention.
was not long after seeing him in Count Basie's
that someone took me to a place in the Bronx called
Club Cubano Interamericano where Patato was playing.
The guy who brought me did the translating and
it was that day that our relationship became cemented
and has endured for over 30 years.
the first years of my knowing Patato I spent most
of my time with him in clubs in the Bronx. Cheap
bars, after hours clubs, religious ceremonies
in apartments. I got to see a side of life that
my upbringing and City College did not prepare
me for. I learned what being hip really was about
and also acquired some bad habits that took some
time to break. I learned to make instruments for
demanding players and I learned to be confident
in my convictions. This last point served me better
than all of my college and engineering training.
learn more about Carlos "Patato" Valdez,