Tito Puente

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Tito Puente
TitoPuente.jpg
Background information
Birth name Ernesto Antonio Puente
Also known as "El Rey de los Timbales"
The King of Latin Music
Born (1923-04-20)April 20, 1923
New York City
Died June 1, 2000(2000-06-01) (aged 77)
New York City
Genres Afro-Cuban jazz, mambo, salsa
Occupation(s) Musician, producer
Instruments Timbales, Vibraphone, Drum set
Years active 1946–2000
Labels Fania Records, Sony Discos, RMM Records
Associated acts La Lupe

Ernesto Antonio "Tito" Puente, (April 20, 1923 – June 1, 2000),[1] was an American salsa musician and Latin jazz composer. The son of native Puerto Ricans, Ernest and Ercilia Puente, living in New York City's Spanish Harlem community, Puente is often credited as "The Musical Pope," "El Rey de los Timbales" (The King of the timbales) and "The King of Latin Music." He is best known for dance-oriented mambo and Latin jazz compositions that endured over a 50 year career. He and his music appear in many films such as The Mambo Kings and Fernando Trueba's Calle 54. He guest-starred on several television shows including Sesame Street, The Cosby Show and, most notably, The Simpsons two-part episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?".

Early life[edit]

Tito Puente was born on April 20, 1923, at Harlem Hospital Center in New York City.[2][3] His family moved frequently, but he spent the majority of his childhood in the Spanish Harlem area of the city.[2] Puente's father was the foreman at a razorblade factory.[4]

As a child, he was described as hyperactive, and after neighbors complained of hearing seven-year-old Puente beating on pots and window frames, his mother sent him to 25-cent piano lessons.[4] By the age of 10, he switched to percussion, drawing influence from jazz drummer Gene Krupa.[4] He later created a song-and-dance duo with his sister Anna in the 1930s and intended to become a dancer, but an ankle tendon injury prevented him pursuing dance as a career.[3][4] When the drummer in Machito's band was drafted to the army, Puente subsequently took his place.[4]

Career[edit]

Tito Puente served in the Navy for three years during World War II after being drafted in 1942. He was discharged with a Presidential Unit Citation for serving in nine battles on the escort carrier USS Santee (CVE-29). The GI Bill allowed him to study music at Juilliard School of Music, where he completed a formal education in conducting, orchestration and theory. In 1969, he received the key to the City of New York from former Mayor John Lindsay. In 1992, he was inducted into the National Congressional Record, and in 1993 he received the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal from the Smithsonian.[5]

During the 1950s, Puente was at the height of his popularity, and helped to bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds, like mambo, son, and cha-cha-cha, to mainstream audiences. Puente was so successful playing popular Afro-Cuban rhythms that many people mistakenly identify him as Cuban. Dance Mania, possibly Puente's most well known album was released in 1958.[6] Later, he moved into more diverse sounds, including pop music, bossa nova and others, eventually settling down with a fusion of Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz genres that became known as "salsa" (a term that he disliked). In 1979, Puente won the first of five Grammy Awards for the albums A Tribute to Benny Moré, On Broadway, Mambo Diablo, and Goza Mi Timbal. In 1990, Puente was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal. He was also awarded a Grammy at the first Latin Grammy Awards, winning Best Traditional Tropical Album for Mambo Birdland. In 1995, he appeared as himself on the Simpsons episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" In early 2000, he shot the music documentary Calle 54, wearing an all-white outfit with his band.[7] After a show in Puerto Rico on May 31, he suffered a massive heart attack and was flown to New York City for surgery to repair a heart valve, but complications developed and he died during the night of May 31 – June 1, 2000.[8] He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

Tito Puente's name is often mentioned in a television production called La Epoca,[9] a film about the Palladium era in New York, Afro-Cuban music and rhythms, Mambo and Salsa as dances and music and much more. The film discusses many of Tito Puente's as well as Arsenio Rodríguez's contributions, and features interviews with some of the musicians Puente recorded with such as Alfonso "El Panameno" Joseph, Luis Mangual, Julian Lianos and others.

Puente's youngest son, Tito Puente, Jr., has continued his father's legacy by presenting many of the same songs in his performances and recordings, while daughter Audrey Puente is a television meteorologist for WNYW and WWOR-TV in New York City. Puente's granddaughter, Janeen Puente, is a singer and bandleader. Her band is known as the Janeen Puente Orchestra.[10]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Timbales on display at the Smithsonian

Discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

  • Mambos Vol. 2 (1951) Tico Records
  • Mamborama (1955) Tico Records
  • Puente In Percussion (1956) Tico Records
  • Cha Cha Cha's For Lovers (1956) Tico Records
  • Top Percussion (1958) RCA Victor
  • Dance Mania (1958) RCA Victor
  • Dancing Under Latin Skies (1959)
  • Tambo (1960) RCA Victor
  • Cha Cha With Tito Puente at Grossinger's (1960) RCA Victor
  • El Rey: Bravo (1963) Tico Records
  • El Rey (The King) (1968) Tico Records
  • El Rey: Tito Puente & His Latin Ensemble (1984) Concord Picante
  • Mambo Diabolo (1985) Concord Picante
  • Tito's Idea (1995) Tropi Jazz / RMM
  • Jazzin′ (with India) (1996) Tropi Jazz / RMM
  • Percussion's King (1997)
  • Selection of Mambo & Cha Cha Cha (1997)
  • 50 Years of Swing (1997)
  • Tito Meets Machito: Mambo Kings (1997)
  • Cha Cha Cha Rumba Beguine (1998)
  • Dance Mania '99: Live at Birdland (1998)
  • The Very Best of Tito Puente (1998)
  • Timbalero Tropical (1998)
  • Yambeque (1998)
  • Absolute Best (1999)
  • Carnival (1999)
  • Colección original (1999)
  • Golden Latin Jazz All Stars: In Session (1999)
  • Latin Flight (1999)
  • Latin Kings (1999)
  • Lo mejor de lo mejor (1999)
  • Mambo Birdland (1999)
  • Special Delivery featuring Maynard Ferguson (1999)
  • Rey (2000)
  • His Vibes & Orchestra (2000)
  • Cha Cha Cha for Lovers (2000)
  • Homenaje a Beny Moré. Vol. 3 (2000)
  • Dos ídolos. Su música (2000)
  • Tito Puente y su Orquesta Mambo (2000)
  • The Complete RCA Recordings. Vol. 1 (2000)
  • The Best of the Concord Years (2000)
  • Por fin (Finally) (2000)
  • Party with Puente! (2000)
  • Obra maestra (2000)
  • Mambo Mambo (2000)
  • Mambo King Meets the Queen of Salsa (2000)
  • Latin Abstract (2000)
  • Kings of Mambo (2000)
  • Cha Cha Cha for Lovers (2000)
  • The Legends Collection: Tito Puente & Celia Cruz (2001)
  • The Complete RCA Recordings, Vol. 2 (2001)
  • RCA Recordings (2001)
  • Puente caliente (2001)
  • The Best of... (2001)
  • King of Mambo (2001)
  • El Rey: Pa'lante! Straight! (2001)
  • Cocktail Hour (2001)
  • Selection. King of Mambo (2001)
  • Herman Meets Puente (2001)
  • Undisputed (2001)
  • Fiesta (2002)
  • Colección Diamante (2002)
  • Tito Puente y Celia Cruz (2002)
  • Live at the Playboy Jazz Festival (2002)
  • King of Kings: The Very Best of Tito Puente (2002)
  • Hot Timbales! (2002)
  • Dr. Feelgood (2002)
  • Carnaval de éxitos (2002)
  • Caravan Mambo (2002)
  • We Love Salsa (2006)
  • Quatro: The Definitive Collection (2012)[13]

As sideman[edit]

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Sonny Stitt

Filmography[edit]

Selected Feature Films[edit]

Documentaries[edit]

Concert films[edit]

Quotation[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tito Puente Biography". BookRags.com. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Siegal, Nina (June 6, 2000). "The New York Legacy of Tito Puente". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved March 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Ginell, Richard S. "Tito Puente – Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Obejas, Achy (June 2, 2000). "He Beat The Drum For Latin Music". Chicago Tribune (Tribune Company). Retrieved March 23, 2012. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Wilds, Tony. Allmusic. "Dance Mania Review".
  7. ^ Calle 54; Video Commentary
  8. ^ "Latin musician Tito Puente dies after heart surgery". CNN. June 1, 2000. Retrieved June 1, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Mambo, Salsa, On2, On1, On 2, On 1, Clave, Arsenio Rodriguez, Johnny Pacheco, Alfonso El Panameno, Agustin Caraballoso, Freddy Rios, Mike Ramos, Cuban Pete, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Fania, Afro-Cuban, Palladium, Palladium-era, Palladium era, The Palladium". Laepocafilm.com. January 31, 2009. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  10. ^ http://www.janeenpuente.com/index.html
  11. ^ "Lifetime Honors: National Medal of Arts". Nea.gov. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  12. ^ Rosero, Jessica (May 26, 2006). ""'La vida es un carnaval' North Hudson celebrates 6th annual Cuban Day Parade"". The Hudson Reporter. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  13. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Tito-Puente-Quatro-Definitive-Collection/dp/B0091HWM1I
  14. ^ "Entertainment". Freshbreadgroup.com. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Calle 54". IMDb.com. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  16. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 148. ISBN 1-904041-96-5. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]