Personnel: Candido Camero (congas, bongos); Whitey Mitchell (bass instrument); Todd Sommer, Teddy Sommer (drums); Joe Puma (guitar); Al Cohn (tenor saxophone); Dick Katz (piano).
Recording information: New York, NY (04/01/1956-04/10/1956).
This album, first issued by ABC-Paramount, marked Cuban percussionist Candido Camero's recording debut as a leader, and while he obviously has a prominent role, these 1956 sessions represent far more than a vehicle for his conga and bongo playing. The band includes the always inspired tenor saxophonist Al Cohn, pianist Dick Katz, bassist Whitey Mitchell, guitarist Joe Puma, and drummer Ted Sommer. The selections include gems from the swing era, show tunes, and originals, all of which swing like mad. The group is at its very best in the driving "Stompin' at the Savoy," due to its inspired solos and the tradeoffs between Cohn and the leader (on bongos). Puma contributed the easygoing "Candi Bar," while Sommer's "Candido's Camera" is a snappy vehicle showcasing Candido and Al Cohn. One can easily imagine enjoying the lively interpretation of "Perdido" in a Cuban nightclub. The leader's march-like tempo introducing "Poinciana" suggests Ravel's Bolero before he relaxes his cadence into a more swinging setting. A romp through "Cheek to Cheek" provides a satisfying finale to a very enjoyable CD. Finally reissued in the summer of 2004, this remastered Verve limited edition should be considered essential for fans of Latin jazz. ~ Ken Dryden