Today would’ve marked the 87th birthday of Ernesto Antonio Puente Jr., better known as Tito Puente. A madman and genius of the timbales, he led the wave of Afro-cuban rhythms that rose out of Spanish Harlem in the 1950’s and led an amazing career composing and influencing other artists for over fifty years. Aside from leading his own work he collaborated and worked with some amazing talent throughout the years including Machito, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Palmieri, Celiz Cruz, La Lupe, and later in the 90’s La India.
Here’s a pair of videos to pay a little homage to his enduring legacy. Also check out the first episode of PBS’s excellent Latin Music Usa series, which features more footage of Tito Puente’s amazing playing and tracks the evolution of the mambo and the Afro-cuban rythms in New York in the 50’s and later into the “salsa dura” of the 70’s. Enjoy. EB