Modesto Duran

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One of the great conga players, Modesto Duran performed on many key recordings by top stars and orchestra leaders. His few records as a leader prove him to be very capable in that capacity, and it is…
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Calypso
One of the great conga players, Modesto Duran performed on many key recordings by top stars and orchestra leaders. His few records as a leader prove him to be very capable in that capacity, and it is a shame he was not "discovered" and recorded more. Hailing from the old section of Havana, he first started there with the Gilberto Valdes Orchestra. During 12 years in Mexico, he played with most other orchestras, including those of Esquivel, Luis Arcaraz, Armengol, and Marroquin. He travelled with Maria Antonietta Pons for seven years before becoming the backbone of the Perez Prado organization. Although Prado once claimed there was no real difference between the cha cha cha and mambo, it was Duran's three-count beat that gave mambo a unique identity and changed the face of Latin music. Moving with Prado to the U.S. in 1953, he worked with Sonny Burke, Don Swan and Russ Garcia, as well as singers Eartha Kitt, the DeCastros, Lena Horne, Herb Jeffries, and Harry Belafonte. That's Duran on Belafonte's famous, first Calypso album. A musician's musician, Duran had tremendous influence on other conga players and Latin aficionados, mainly by being on all the right albums at the right time.