Since Patato emigrated from Cuba he had an incredible career,having the spontaneity and charm to draw audiences from all over, with the irresistible Afro-Cuban rhythms he so skillfully created. Valdez's understanding of melodic percussion was ahead of his time and required advances in drum technology. During the late 1940's he helped develop the first tunable congas, as earlier models were tuned by the previous method of heating them over a source of fire. His innovations on the conga drums have been a major contribution to music. He truly is in the master class.
Born November 4, 1926 in Barrio Los Sitios in Havana, his father was a pioneer tres (guitar) player with the group Los Apaches, made up of longshoremen, the group was formed in 1915 and when they broke up in 1920 split into Sexteto Habanero and Sexteto Nacional. In this musical fertile environment he learned various instruments as a child, like the marimbula and of course the tres.
Around the age of twelve he began playing congas with a compara called La Sultana and by his teens was an established rumbero. From the beginning it was his melodic tone that set him apart and at nineteen he broke into the big time when he replaced the ailing Valentin Cane as conguero with La Sonora Matancera. He stayed a year before his boyhood friend Armando Peraza brought him into the Conjunto Kubavana of Alberto Ruiz.
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