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Puente, Tito

Tito Puente

Bandleader, percussionist, pianist, composer

For the Record

King of the 1950s Mambo Craze

Gained Global Recognition

Released 100th Album

Selected discography

Sources

Tito Puente is widely considered to be the godfather of Latin jazz and salsa, devoting more than six decades of his life to performing Latin music and earning a reputation as a masterful percussionist. Noted for merging Latin American rhythms with contemporary jazz and big band music, Puentes prolific output encompasses over 100 albums recorded between 1949 and 1994.

Puente was born in New York Citys Spanish Harlem in 1923, where the hybrid of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Puerto Rican music helped create salsa music (the Spanish word for spice and sauce is salsa). By the time Puente was ten years old, he played with local Latin bands at neighborhood gatherings, society parties, and New York City hotels. Puente first performed as a young boy with a local band called Los Happy Boys, at New York Citys Park Place Hotel, and by the age of 13, he was considered a child prodigy by his family, neighbors, and fellow bandmembers. As a teenager, he joined Noro Morales and the Machito Orchestra. Puente was drafted into the Navy in 1942at the age of 19to

For the Record

Born Ernesto Antonio Puente, April 23, 1920, in New York, NY; married; three children. Education: Studied conducting, orchestration, and musical theory at the Juilliard School of Music, 1945-47.

As a child, performed as percussionist/pianist in Los Happy Boys band, New York City; as a teenager, performed with Noro Morales and the Machito Orchestra; performed with Fernando Alvarez and his Copaca-bana Group, Jose Curbelo, and Pupi Campo; formed Piccadilly Boys, 1948, then Tito Puente Orchestra; recorded first hit single, Abaniquito, Tico, 1949; signed with RCA, 1949; released fusion of mambo/big band/jazz LPs, 1950s-1960s; performed compositions at Metropolitan Opera, New York City, 1967; hosted television show The World of Tito Puente, 1968; performed for U.S. President Jimmy Carter, 1979; founded Tito Puente Scholarship Foundation; appeared in films Radio Days, Armed and Dangerous, and The Mambo Kings, 1991; released 100th recording, El Numero Cien, 1991; with Golden Latin-Jazz Allstars, released Master Timbalero, 1994; with Latin-Jazz All-stars, released In Session, 1994. Military service: U.S. Navy, 1942-45.

Awards: Grammy awards for A Tribute to Benny More, 1979; On Broadway, 1983;Mambo Diablo, 1985; and Goza Mi Timbal, 1989; honorary doctorate from College at Old Westbury, mid-1980s; Founders Award, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, 1994; eight Grammy Award nominations.

Addresses: Record company RMM Records, 568 Broadway, Suite 806, New York, NY 10012.

fight in World War II, which entailed a three-year reprieve from music.

In the late 1930s Puente had originally intended to become a professional dancer, but chose to continue performing and composing music after injuring his ankle in a bicycle accident. Puente befriended bandleader Charlie Spivak while in the Navy, and through Spivak, Puente became interested in big band composition. When Puente returned from the Navy after serving in nine battles, he received a Presidential Commendation and completed his formal musical education at the Juilliard School of Music, studying conducting, orchestration, and musical theory under the G.I. bill. He completed his studies in 1947, at the age of 24.

While at Juilliard, and for a year after he completed his studies, Puente played with Fernando Alvarez and his Copacabana Group, as well as Jose Curbelo and Pupi Campo. When Puente was 25 in 1948, he formed his own groupor conjuntocalled the Piccadilly Boys, which soon became known as the Tito Puente Orchestra. He recorded his first hit, Abaniquito, on the Tico Records label a year later. Later in 1949, he signed with RCA Victor records and recorded the single Ran Kan Kan.

King of the 1950s Mambo Craze

Puente began churning out hits in the 1950s while riding the crest of mambos popularity, and recorded dance favorites such as Barbarabatiri, El Rey del Timbai, Mambo la Roca, and Mambo Gallego. RCA released Cuban Carnival, Puente Goes Jazz, Dance Mania, and Top Percussion, four of Puentes most popular albums in the 1950s, between 1956 and 1960. Puente established himself as the foremost mambo musician of the 1950s, and in the late 1950s, fused Cuban cha-cha-cha beats with big band compositions.

In the 1960s Puente began to collaborate more widely with other New York City-based musicians; he played with trombonist Buddy Morrow, Woody Herman, and Cuban musicians Celia Cruz and La Lupe. He remained flexible and open to experimentation by collaborating with others and fusing various musical styles such as mambo, jazz, salsa, and the big band sound of the 1940s. Puente epitomized the Latin-jazz crossover movement in music at the time. In 1963 on Tico Records, Puente released Oye Como Va, which was a resounding success and is now considered a classic. Four years later in 1967 Puente performed a program of his compositions at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center.

Gained Global Recognition

Puente hosted his own television show called The World of Tito Puente, broadcast on Hispanic television in 1968, and he was asked to be the Grand Marshall of New York Citys Puerto Rican Day Parade. In 1969 Mayor John Lindsay gave Puente the key to New York City as a ceremonious gesture of widespread appreciation.

Puentes music was not categorized as salsa until the 1970s, as it contained elements of big band composition and jazz as well. When Puentes classic hit Oye Como Va was covered by Carlos Santana in the early 1970s, a new generation was introduced to Puentes music. Santana also covered Puentes Para Los Rumberos, which Puente recorded in 1956. Puente and Santana eventually met in 1977 in New York Citys Roseland Ballroom.

In 1979 Puente toured Japan with his ensemble and discovered an enthusiastic new audience as well as the fact that he had achieved worldwide popularity. After returning from Japan, the musician and his orchestra played for U.S. President Jimmy Carter as part of the presidents Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. Puente was awarded the first of four Grammy Awards in 1979 for A Tribute To Benny More. He also received Grammy awards for On Broadway in 1983, Mambo Diablo in 1985, and Goza Mi Timbal in 1989. In the course of his long career, Puente received eight Grammy Award nominations, more than any other musician in the Latin music field before 1994.

Released 100th Album

Puente recorded his last big band albums in 1980 and 1981. He toured European cities with the Latin Percussion Jazz Ensemble, and recorded albums with them as well in the 1980s. Puente continued to devote himself to composing, recording, and performing music throughout the 1980s, but his interests broadened at this time.

Puente founded the Tito Puente Scholarship Foundation to benefit musically talented children; the foundation later signed a contract with Allnet Communications to provide scholarships to music students nationwide. He appeared on The Cosby Show, and performed in a commercial for Coca-Cola with Bill Cosby. Puente also made a guest appearances in the films Radio Days and Armed and Dangerous. Puente received an honorary doctorate degree from the College at Old Westbury in the 1980s as well, and appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1984.

On August 14, 1990, Puente received a Hollywood Star in Los Angles for posterity. Puentes talent was elevated to an international audience in the mid-1980s, and he spent time in the early 1990s performing for audiences overseas. In 1991 Puente appearedmost appropriatelyin the film The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, which prompted another new generations interest in his music.

In 1991, at the age of 68, Puente released his 100th album, titled El Numero Cien, distributed by Sony for RMM Records. Puente released Master Timbalero with his Golden Latin-Jazz Allstarscomprised mainly of other band leadersin 1994, covering classics such as The Peanut Vendor and Nostalgia in Times Square, as well as the album In Session with a separate ensemble of musicians called the Latin-Jazz Allstars, is his regular touring group. Puente was awarded ASCAPs most prestigious honorthe Founders Awardin July of 1994. Billboards John Lannert wrote, As Puente stepped up to the microphone, a segment of the audience broke into an impromptu rendition of the Puente anthem Oye Como Va.

Selected discography

Mambos with Puente, Tumbao Cuban Classics, 1949.

Tito Puente & Friends, Tropical, 1949.

Mambo On Broadway, RCA, 1951.

Cuban Carnival, RCA, 1956.

Puente Goes Jazz, RCA, 1957.

Lets Cha Cha with Puente, RCA, 1958.

Dance Mania, RCA, 1958.

Top Percussion, RCA, 1960.

Bossa Nova by Puente, Roulette, 1965.

My Fair Lady Goes Latin, Roulette, 1968.

Palante, Tico, 1972.

Pa Los Rumberos, Tico, 1974.

A Tribute to Benny More, Tico, 1979.

On Broadway, Concord, 1983.

El Ray, Concord, 1984.

Mambo Diablo, Concord, 1985.

Sensacion, Concord, 1987.

Un Poco Loco, Concord, 1987.

Salsa Meets Jazz, Concord, 1988.

Goza Mi Timbal, Concord, 1989.

El Numero Cien, Sony, 1991.

Mambo Macoco, Tumbao Cuban Classics, 1992.

Puente Goes Jazz, Bluebird, 1993.

Master Timbalero, Concord Picante, 1994.

In Session, TropiJazz, 1994.

Navidad en las Americas, 1994.

(Contributor) I Like It Like That (soundtrack), Sony, 1994.

Sources

Books

Gerard, Charley, Salsa: The Rhythm of Latin Music, White Cliffs Media Company, 1989.

Periodicals

Americas, January/February 1993.

Billboard, July 9, 1994.

Down Beat, June 1992; November 1993; August 1994.

Harpers Bazaar, June 1993.

Hispanic, May 1992; December 1992.

Musician, July 1994.

Newsweek, November 11, 1991; April 20, 1992.

New Yorker, March 2, 1992.

Rolling Stone, December 12, 1991.

Time, June 8, 1992.

B. Kimberly Taylor

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Tito Puente

Tito Puente

Tito Puente (born 1923) is widely considered to be the godfather of Latin jazz and salsa, devoting more than six decades of his life to performing Latin music and earning a reputation as a masterful percussionist. Noted for merging Latin American rhythms with contemporary jazz and big band music, Puente's prolific output encompasses over 100 albums recorded between 1949 and 1994.

Tito Puente was born in New York City's Spanish Harlem in 1923, where the hybrid of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Puerto Rican music helped create salsa music (the Spanish word for "spice" and "sauce" is salsa). By the time Puente was ten years old, he played with local Latin bands at neighborhood gatherings, society parties, and New York City hotels. Puente first performed as a young boy with a local band called Los Happy Boys, at New York City's Park Place Hotel, and by the age of 13, he was considered a child prodigy by his family, neighbors, and fellow bandmembers. As a teenager, he joined Noro Morales and the Machito Orchestra. Puente was drafted into the Navy in 1942 at the age of 19 to fight in World War II, which entailed a three-year reprieve from music.

In the late 1930s Puente had originally intended to become a professional dancer, but chose to continue performing and composing music after injuring his ankle in a bicycle accident. Puente befriended bandleader Charlie Spivak while in the Navy, and through Spivak, Puente became interested in big band composition. When Puente returned from the Navy after serving in nine battles, he received a Presidential Commendation and completed his formal musical education at the Juilliard School of Music, studying conducting, orchestration, and musical theory under the G.I. bill. He completed his studies in 1947, at the age of 24.

While at Juilliard, and for a year after he completed his studies, Puente played with Fernando Alvarez and his Copacabana Group, as well as Jose Curbelo and Pupi Campo. When Puente was 25 in 1948, he formed his own group—or conjunto—called the Piccadilly Boys, which soon became known as the Tito Puente Orchestra. He recorded his first hit, "Abaniquito, " on the Tico Records label a year later. Later in 1949, he signed with RCA Victor records and recorded the single "Ran Kan Kan."

Puente began churning out hits in the 1950s while riding the crest of mambo's popularity, and recorded dance favorites such as "Barbarabatiri, " "El Rey del Timbai, " " Mambo la Roca, " and "Mambo Gallego." RCA released Cuban Carnival, Puente Goes Jazz, Dance Mania, and Top Percussion, four of Puente's most popular albums in the 1950s, between 1956 and 1960. Puente established himself as the foremost mambo musician of the 1950s, and in the late 1950s, fused Cuban "cha-cha-cha" beats with big band compositions.

In the 1960s Puente began to collaborate more widely with other New York City-based musicians; he played with trombonist Buddy Morrow, Woody Herman, and Cuban musicians Celia Cruz and La Lupe. He remained flexible and open to experimentation by collaborating with others and fusing various musical styles such as mambo, jazz, salsa, and the big band sound of the 1940s. Puente epitomized the Latin-jazz crossover movement in music at the time. In 1963 on Tico Records, Puente released "Oye Como Va, " which was a resounding success and is now considered a classic. Four years later in 1967 Puente performed a program of his compositions at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center.

Puente hosted his own television show called "The World of Tito Puente, " broadcast on Hispanic television in 1968, and he was asked to be the Grand Marshall of New York City's Puerto Rican Day Parade. In 1969 Mayor John Lindsay gave Puente the key to New York City as a gesture of appreciation.

Puente's music was not categorized as salsa until the 1970s, as it contained elements of big band composition and jazz as well. When Puente's classic hit "Oye Como Va" was covered by Carlos Santana in the early 1970s, a new generation was introduced to Puente's music. Santana also covered Puente's "Para Los Rumberos, " which Puente recorded in 1956. Puente and Santana eventually met in 1977 in New York City's Roseland Ballroom.

In 1979 Puente toured Japan with his ensemble and discovered an enthusiastic new audience as well as the fact that he had achieved worldwide popularity. After returning from Japan, the musician and his orchestra played for U.S. President Jimmy Carter as part of the president's Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. Puente was awarded the first of four Grammy Awards in 1979 for A Tribute To Benny More. He also received Grammy awards for On Broadway in 1983, Mambo Diablo in 1985, and Goza Mi Timbal in 1989. In the course of his long career, Puente received eight Grammy Award nominations, more than any other musician in the Latin music field before 1994.

Puente recorded his last big band albums in 1980 and 1981. He toured European cities with the Latin Percussion Jazz Ensemble, and recorded albums with them as well in the 1980s. Puente continued to devote himself to composing, recording, and performing music throughout the 1980s, but his interests broadened at this time.

Puente founded the Tito Puente Scholarship Foundation to benefit musically talented children; the foundation later signed a contract with Allnet Communications to provide scholarships to music students nationwide. He appeared on The Cosby Show, and performed in a commercial for Coca-Cola with Bill Cosby. Puente also made guest appearances in the films Radio Days and Armed and Dangerous. Puente received an honorary doctorate degree from the College at Old Westbury in the 1980s and appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1984.

On August 14, 1990, Puente received a Hollywood Star in Los Angles for posterity. Puente's talent was elevated to an international audience in the mid-1980s, and he spent time in the early 1990s performing for audiences overseas. In 1991 Puente appeared—most appropriately—in the film The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, which prompted another new generation's interest in his music.

In 1991, at the age of 68, Puente released his 100th album, titled El Numero Cien, distributed by Sony for RMM Records. Puente released Master Timbalero with his Golden Latin-Jazz Allstars—comprised mainly of other band leaders—in 1994, covering classics such as "The Peanut Vendor" and "Nostalgia in Times Square, " as well as the album In Session with a separate ensemble of musicians called the Latin-Jazz Allstars, is his regular touring group. Puente was awarded ASCAP's most prestigious honor—the Founders Award—in July of 1994. Billboard 's John Lannert wrote, "As Puente stepped up to the microphone, a segment of the audience broke into an impromptu rendition of the Puente anthem 'Oye Como Va."'

Further Reading

Gerard, Charley, Salsa: The Rhythm of Latin Music, White Cliffs Media Company, 1989.

Americas, January/February 1993.

Atlanta Constitution, March 28, 1997.

Billboard, July 9, 1994.

Boston Globe, June 17, 1996.

Down Beat, June 1992; November 1993; August 1994.

Harper's Bazaar, June 1993.

Hispanic, May 1992; December 1992.

Musician, July 1994.

Newsweek, November 11, 1991; April 20, 1992.

New Yorker, March 2, 1992.

New York Times, December 19, 1996.

Rolling Stone, December 12, 1991.

Time, June 8, 1992. □

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Puente, Tito

Tito Puente (Ernesto Antonio Puente, Jr.) (tē´tō pwĕn´tā), 1923–2000, American musician, b. New York City. One of the premier composers and players of Latin music, he was a bandleader, pianist, and virtuoso percussionist. He began playing in the 1930s and performed in various bands while studying at the Juilliard School of Music (1945–47). In 1947 he formed his own group, the Piccadilly Boys, which shortly afterward became the Tito Puente Orchestra. During the 1950s, Puente became renowned for his Big Band renditions, in person and on recordings, of such Latin dance-craze styles as the mambo and cha-cha; in the 1960s he also turned to pachenga music. Puente played in and led many other bands. Also beginning in the 1960s he collaborated with several jazz musicians and thereafter customarily worked in either a Latin or jazz style, or a combination of the two, becoming an important figure in salsa music. During his long career, Puente won five Grammys and recorded 118 albums.

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Puente, Tito

Puente, Tito

Puente, Tito , multitalented Latin-jazz percussionist, vibraphonist, timbalist, saxophonist, pianist, conga and bongos player; b. N.Y., April 20, 1923; d. there, May 31, 2000. When the rock group Santana recorded “Oye Corno Va,” a classic Latin hit that Tito Puente had written and recorded, the composer was slightly outraged that such a band would dare sully his music. As soon as the royalty check came (based on massive sales of Santana’s first album), Puente discovered the up side of having other people perform his songs. He prefaced the playing of “Oye Corno Va” with that little story many times and came to realize that his music did as much to promote Latin jazz for current audiences as Machito’s did for an earlier generation. Puente’s musical career began with Latin groups such as the Cuarteto Caney and, after World War II, Xavier Cugat.

In the mid-1940s, after serving in the United States Navy during World War II, Puente came back to New York where Noro Morales and Machito gave the budding percussionist work. By the early 1950s, he had formed his own ensemble, The Piccadilly Boys, and played the Palladium, New York’s cultural Mecca for Latin bands. His band meanwhile had mutated into The Tito Puente Orchestra and, with lead vocalist Vincentico Valdes, proceeded to change the face of Latin music. Puente took the Cuban charanga form (with its flutes and violins) and arranged them in more of a jazz big band context, punching up the brass and reeds for a more powerful sound. He also started using a lot of non-Latin jazz artists like Doc Severinsen within his bands and playing arrangements of jazz standards with a Latin beat. During the 1960s and 1970s Puente recorded albums for GNP, Tico, and Fania with large bands and small groups, continuing the heavy schedule of touring he had developed in the 1950s. By the 1980s Puente’s popularity was even stronger than it was in the early 1950s due to a base of fans that included not only the hard-core Latin music lovers, but a fair number of jazz musicians and fans as well.

It was in 1983 that the multi-talented Puente (timbales, drums, marimba, vibraphone, percussion, vocalist, arranger) won the first of his many Grammy Awards, for the album Tito Puente and His Latin Ensemble on Broadway. With over 100 albums to his credit, Puente recorded with most of the major names in Latin music and become a major force in the Latinization of jazz during the last half of the 20th century.

Discography

Puente Goes Jazz (1956); Let’s Cha Cha with Puente (1957); Top Percussion (1957); Night Beat (1957); New Cha Cha/Mambo Herd (1958); Cha Cha at El Morocco (1958); Dance Mania (1958); Puente in Love (1959); Mambo with Me (1959); Dancing under Latin Skies (1959); The Exciting Tito Puente Band in Hollywood (1961); In Puerto Rico (1963); More Dance Mania (1963); My Fair Lady Goes Latin (1964); Latin World of Tito Puente (1964); Tito Puente and His Latin Ensemble on Broadway (1982); Puente Now! The Exciting Tito Puente (1984); El Key (1984); Mambo Diablo (1985); Un Poco Loco (1987); Sensacion (1987); Salsa Meets Jazz (1988); Out of This World (1990); Mambo of the Times (1991); The Mambo King: His 100th Album (1991); Live at the Village Gate (1992); Tito Puente & His Latin Jazz All Stars (1993); Royal T (1993); Tambo (1993); Master Timabelero (1993); Tito Swings…(1994); Tito Puente & His Concert Orchestra (1995); Bossa Nova by Puente (1995); Mambos by Tito (1995); Jazzin’ (1995); Tito’s Idea (1995); Special delivery (1996); Tito Meets Machito: Mambo Kings (1997); Dance Mania ’98: Live at Birdland (1998); Mambo Birdland (1999); Por Fin (2000).

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