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Jazz Bassist Flores, Hartford Resident, Dies At 41


August 26, 2012

HARTFORD Charles Flores, a Grammy-winning jazz bassist who was born in Cuba but made his home in Hartford for more than two decades, died Wednesday at age 41.

The cause was complications related to throat cancer, according to bandleader and composer Michel Camilo, who performed with Flores and counted him as a close friend.

Flores had an "unforgettable smile," said Camilo, reached at his New York home. He was "truly gifted with a unique musical sensibility as well as a profound knowledge of the Latin rhythms and the jazz tradition."

Born in Cuba in 1970, Flores left as a refugee and came to Hartford, where his wife, Miriam Flores, had roots.

"Charles' story of leaving his native Cuba to pursue his dream and passion for music was only surpassed by his talent and skill as a musician," Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said on Saturday. "Hartford has lost a giant in the world of jazz and my thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Flores family."

Flores said in an interview with the Courant in 1996 that music students in Cuba were never allowed to play popular music, especially popular American music.

"If the instructors knew you were playing it, even outside of class, they would mark you down,'' Flores said at the time.

The gifted young bassist was recruited in his last year of high school by Cuban jazz vocalist and composer Bobby Carcasses to play for pianist Emiliano Salvador's group, Afro-Cuba. Touring gave Flores a brief escape from the poverty and hardship of his homeland, but he said it did not release him from its sacrifices.

He started playing bass guitar at age 10, but always felt his government's requirement that he play Latin music kept him from his real love jazz.

Flores played with a number of jazz greats, including Arturo Sandoval, Esparanza Spalding and Dafnis Prieto, among others.

He was part of the Michel Camilo Trio, which won a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2004 for the recording "Live at the Blue Note."

Even after his cancer diagnosis, Flores continued to perform. He played the Blue Note, the celebrated jazz club in New York City, with Camilo's trio for an entire week last September. And in November, the group performed at the Barcelona International Jazz Festival. It was their last show together.

"He was a wonderful human being loved by all of us, and also by many fans worldwide who enjoyed his amazing talent and unforgettable smile," Camilo said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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