Patato: Masterpiece

Patato: Masterpiece
BUY THIS ALBUM ON AMAZON.COM

Arguably the greatest Afro-Cuban percussionist that ever lived (bar Tata Güines, perhaps), Carlos “Patato” Valdés is, also one of the greatest showmen of the congas, who often dances atop the tuned congas that he is also credited with inventing. Although he did not give Brigitte Bardot such a dangerous instruction as that in And God Created Woman, he did give the legendary actress a mambo lesson in the film. His virtuoso percussion colouring graced some of the greatest ensembles in Cuba and beyond from the mid-1940’s until his death in 2007. This disc entitled Masterpiece does not seem to have been received with the greatest of respect as some of Patato’s other works, which is unfair as the percussionist dazzles with his virtuosity in every song that is part of this repertoire.

Perhaps the reception may have something to do with the eclectic nature of the selection of songs. However, Patato made such an enormous contribution to Jazz as well – with performances on such iconic discs as Max Roach’s Percussion Bitter Sweet (Impulse! 1961) and Sonny Stitt’s Sonny Goes Latin (Roost, 1963) – playing starring roles in each of the scores of Jazz recordings on which the percussionist appeared. He also appeared with Tito Puente for several years and made at least three important discs with El Rey, including Puente in Percussion (Tico, 1956). Every time Patato hit the studio or stage, he left an indelible mark on the music that flowed from his fertile musical brain through his fingertips.

On Masterpiece his selection of music reflects the breadth of his musical associations until the 1980’s. His playing, though, is neither finicky nor a dryly literal playback of familiar scores. But using his considerable virtuoso skills he makes each tune sound utterly new. Neal Hefti’s “Cute” is a case in point, for Patato’s conception of building texture takes the form of deliciously insouciant lingering in the notes of his solo. Later, without resorting to mannerism, Patato remains steady in the opening of “Tonan Che Cabildo A Ochún” and then brings a breezy lyricism to the rest of the piece. He does likewise on “El Montuno De Patato” where his melodic inflection is curvaceous, natural and discreetly sensuous; the tonal palette discreetly refined.

Of the many surprises is the appearance of Ronnie Cuber, who puts down his heavy baritone saxophone and soars beyond the infinite on soprano saxophone on “Cute” and “Comelon”; and Michel Camilo who also graces both songs. Jerry González (together with his brother Andy) sets the music aflame on three songs including a memorable version of “Reflexionado”. Whatever he touches, Patato’s playing is blessedly free of that metre-driven angularity and stasis that have increasingly beset performances since he blazed a perfect trail across the musical stratosphere. In addition, as with everything on this disc, Patato brings a truly epic sense of drama to music and that will forever be missed in music.

Track list – 1: Adios Pampa Mia; 2: Cute; 3: Reflexionando; 4: Felice Navidad; 5: Comelon; 6: Tonan Che Cabildo A Ochún; 7: Nica’s Dream; 8: El Montuno De Patato; 9: A Los Pianistas

Personnel – Carlos “Patato” Valdés: co-producer, congas, tambores (4), batá (6) and vocals (9); Artie Webb: flute (1), 7, 9); Jorge Dalto: co-producer and piano (1, 3, 7 – 9) and coro (9); Joe Santiago: bass (1, 2, 5, 7 – 9); Nicky Marrero: timbales (1, 7 – 9) and percussion (6) and coro (6, 9); Steve Berrios: drums (1, 4, 7, 9), batá (6) and güiro(8); Nestor Sanchez: coro (1); José “El Canario” Alberto: coro (1, 8); Rodrigo Siens: coro (1, 8); Ronnie Cuber: soprano saxophone (2, 5); Michel Camilo: piano (2, 5); Ignacio Berroa: drums (2); Vicentico Valdés: vocals (3); Rolando Briceño: flute (3, 8); Jerry González: trumpet (3, 7, 8) and tambores (4); Andy González: bass (3); Charlie Santiago: bongos and maracas (3), guiro (5) and percussion (9); Orlando “Watusi” Castillo: lead vocals and La Paranda chorus (4), coro (6, 9); Sabú Martinez: batá , (4)tambores (4) and coro (6); Wilfredo “Moreno” Tejada: batá (6), tambores (4); Anna Matienzo: tambores (4) and coro (6); Frandith: tambores (4) and coro (6); Pablito Rosario: tambores and claves (4); Nestor Torres: coro (8)

Released – 1984 and 1985
Label – Messidor/Timba Records (Timba 59794-2)
Runtime – 56:21

Raul Da Gama
Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

More from author

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts

FROM OUR VINYL STOREspot_img
FROM OUR VINYL STOREspot_img

Featured Posts

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

El Gran Fellové: Part 2- Enter Chocolate & Celio González

Early Sunday morning… I awoke to the pleasant surprise of a Google Alert in my email. I clicked to find Variety Magazine had published an...

El Gran Fellové: Part 1- The Beginning

Francisco Fellové Valdés (October 7, 1923 – February 15, 2013), also known as El Gran Fellové (The Great Fellove), was a Cuban songwriter and...

Bobby Paunetto, New York City and The Synthesis of Music

Bobby Paunetto was an unforgettable composer, arranger, musician and recording artist. Latin Jazz Network honors him on the tenth anniversary of his death (8.10.10). His...

Jazz Plaza 2020: Ancient to the Future

Chapter four of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana In recent months I found myself in profound reflection of the term...

Ray Martinez and the Forgotten Legacy of Jazz

Sometime in the very near future, several of the jazz world's best known writers and musicologists will meet in some obscure conclave to pool...

A Brief History of the Cuban Style Conjunto

1930: The Orquesta Típica is out and the Conjunto is in The year 1930 marked a turning point in the development of popular Cuban music....

Jazz Plaza 2020: Speaking in Tongues

Chapter three of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana Featured photo: Los Muñequitos de Matanzas at El Tablao in Havana, by Danilo...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more