News reports out of New York this morning state that highly acclaimed Cuban percussionist Carlos "Patato" Valdez passed away yesterday at the age of 81. Most stories I'd ever read about the guy said he was crazy (in a good way) both on and off the stage and one of the most versatile percussionists to ever make a name for himself in New York's salsa and jazz scene. The entire concept of Latin jazz was formed around guys like Patato who were walking across the street from the Palladium to Birdland in the wee hours of the morning during the 50s and 60s.
Until yesterday, he was also one of the last guys from that era still around. His music will be sorely missed.
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