Tito Puente

Puente 2Tito Puente was born in New York City in 1923 and became one of the America’s most popular band leaders in the 1950’s until his death in 2000. His Puerto Rican background and familiarity with Afro-Cuban music made his jazz/mambo music of the 1950’s extremely popular. Some little known facts about Tito include the fact that he was also a saxophonist, pianist, vibraphonist, composer, and arranger in addition to being s successful band leader and drummer. He studied composition at Juilliard Conservatory in the 1940 after the Second World War and arranged most of the music for his orchestra.

Tito Puente - Episode 1

Most of the recordings on this podcast have to do with the kinds of music that influenced Tito when he was living in New York; popular Afro-Cuban dance music mixed with American big band music. After the war Tito was hired as a drummer and arranger by the popular bandleader Pupi Campo. Tito formed his first band in 1948 making records for the Tico Record Label. His first major hit was “Abaniquito” recorded in 1949.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Oye Como VaTito Puente OrchestraTito’s Greatest Hits1977
The Peanut VendorDon Aspiazu and His OrchestraAt the Casino1930
ParapampinOrquestra Casino Del PlayaThe Original Cuban Flavorsca. 1938
AnabacoaPerez Prado with Beny Moreca. 1954
TangaMachito and His Afro-Cubansca. 1949
Sing Sing SingBenny Goodman Orchestra1938
MantecaDizzy Gillespie Orchestra1947
Earl Wilson MamboPupi Campo OrchestraLatin Jazz Essentialsca. 1948
AbaniquitoTito Puente Orchestra1949

Tito Puente - Episode 2

Tito found great success in the 1950’s with the public’s interest in mambo music. The center for mambo music was the Palladium Ballroom on 53rd St. and Broadway in New York. Puente successfully managed all aspects of his orchestra; writing and arranging music, directing, performing, and also acting as the business manager. Much of the band’s success was due to the outstanding percussion section consisting of Tito, Mongo Santamaria, and Willie Bobo. Bobo and Santamaria were two of the most important percussionists that played with Tito in the 1950’s and helped make his band the powerhouse that it was. In 1956 Tito released one of his most popular albums, Cuban Carnival and in 1958 another popular album, Dance Mania Vol 1. Both of these popular albums feature selections that blend Afro-Cuban music with big band jazz.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Ran Kan KanTito Puente Orchestraca. 1952
Coco My MyTito Puente OrchestraCaravan Mamboca. 1953
Tito MamboTito Puente OrchestraCaravan Mamboca. 1954
Elegua ChangoTito Puente OrchestraCuban Carnival1956
Mambo GozonTito Puente OrchestraDance Mania Vol. 11958
Para Los RumberosTito Puente OrchestraCuban Carnival1956

Tito Puente - Episode 3

In addition to being an excellent timbale player, Tito was a very good jazz vibraphonist. He was one of the first jazz musicians to play the vibraphone on Latin jazz recordings. His 1st recorded solo on the vibes is on the recording “Mambo Diablo.” He used the vibraphone liberally on the album Tito Puente in Love from 1957. Interestingly enough, he plays marimba instead of the metallic sounding vibraphone on Hong Kong Mambo.
CompositionArtistAlbumYear
Mambo DiabloTito PuenteCaravan Mamboca. 1954
Cuban FantasyTito PuenteCuban Carnival1956
Philly MamboTito PuenteTito Puente in Love1957
Cool MamboTito PuenteTito Puente in Love1957
Vibe MamboTito PuenteTito Puente in Love1957
TemptationTito PuenteTito Puente in Love1957
Hong Kong MamboTito PuenteDance Mania Vol. 11958