Sunday, September 18, 2016

Concert Review: Candido at the American Jazz Musem

Sixty-three years between gigs in Kansas City has to be a record.  Candido Camero floored the members of the audience of about 125 in the atrium of the American Jazz Museum on Friday when he recalled his only other visit to Kansas City.

“In 1953, I was here for the first time with the Stan Kenton Orchestra with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker,” he said. 

Announced three weeks ago in conjunction with the opening of the Cuba Bound: Photographs by Jesse A. Fernandez exhibit, the concert by the Cuban born legend was originally slated for the Gem Theater.  As I considered pulling the trigger on a $45 ticket (plus Ticketmaster fees) on Tuesday morning, I discovered that less than ten tickets had been claimed for the show in the 500-seat venue.  I was relieved when I received notice a few hours later that the concert had been repackaged as a free event.

I had hesitated to spend $50-plus dollars on a ticket because I was apprehensive about the 95-year-old’s strength.  I was also frustrated by the absence of details about who would accompany him.  Both concerns were alleviated at the show.

Supported by a fine- if overly polite- group that included keyboardist Elio Villafranca, Candido still possessed the chops that he’d displayed on recordings with luminaries including Art Blakey, Jack Kerouac, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins.  (He also had a disco hit in 1979.) 

The percussionist played with admirable speed, power and élan.  He admitted that “when I play the drums I feel like (I’m) 20 years old.”  It showed.  He’s an authoritative elder with a massive presence.  He didn’t merely make everyone at the American Jazz Museum smile.  His vivacious grace acted as a reminder of what’s really important in life. 

The world needs Candido.  It’s a travesty that he isn’t supported by an adequate management team.  He should be hanging out at the White House and making regular appearances on national television.  There’s still time.  As Candido said, “this is only the beginning.”

(Original image by Plastic Sax.  Joe Dimino documented a portion of the show.)

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