Wednesday World Beat: Remembering Tito Puente

Words By Greg Molitor (ReMIND Photography)

It’s difficult to imagine another composer who’ll ever be more influential to Latin American music than El Rey de los Timabales himself, Tito Puente. Often referred to as the “The King of Latin Music,” Puente’s affective importance to not the only American music landscape but also American popular culture cannot be understated throughout his career and eventual passing. He was a man, a band leader in the purest of sense who was as critically acclaimed as he was experimental. While taking his Latin jazz and salsa influences and progressing them into fresh soundscapes, Puente never strayed far from his Spanish Latin roots...

Tito Puente enjoyed the greatest success of his career in the 1950s when he helped to bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds to mainstream audiences. The most popular album of his career, Dance Mania, was released in 1958, propelling Puente to a 50+ year career that earned 5 grammies, saw over 100 albums released and featured multiple guest appearances on American television shows such as The Simpsons, The Cosby Show, and Sesame Street...

Puente loved to perform until he could physically no longer do so. Here’s his final public appearance, a take on one of Puente’s most popular tunes titled, “Oye Como Va.” That smile seems like it’ll last forever...


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