Tito Puente

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Tito Puente at a parade in New York City

Tito Puente , actually Ernest Anthony Puente Jr. , (born April 20, 1923 in New York City , † May 31, 2000 there ) was an American jazz , salsa and mambo musician.


Puente was, as it is colloquially known, a Nuyorican , a New York-born son of Puerto Rican parents. He grew up in Spanish Harlem  - also called El Barrio -, a district of Manhattan , east of the actual center of Harlem .

He was called El Rey del Timbal ( Spanish for "King of Timbales ") or King of Mambo ("King of Mambo") and is known for both his Mambo and his Latin American jazz compositions , on which he wrote his 50+ year-long career. He played the saxophone , piano , vibraphone , timbales, congas and bongos . Musically, Puente is very close to Eddie Palmieri . His original career aspiration was a mambo dancer.

In 1948 he got a recording deal from George Goldner's Latin record label Tico Records . Puente was at the height of its popularity, bringing Afro-Cuban and Caribbean music such as mambo , son and cha-cha-cha to a large audience. Later he switched to more universal styles of music, e.g. B. Pop and Bossa Nova ; Finally, he stayed with a mixture of Afro-Cuban and Latin American jazz , the salsa was called. For his work he received five Grammy Awards , the National Medal of Arts (1997), the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal (1999), the "Status" of a Living Legend from the Library of Congress (2000) and two honorary doctorates. He died of heart failure in New York City in 2000. His piece Oye Como Va became well known through Carlos Santana .

The timbales , the Puente during the Olympics in 1996 played

He was also an actor in the second half of his life , for example in the 1992 movie The Mambo Kings . He made several appearances on the Cosby Show in the 1980s . In 1995 he also had a guest appearance in the only double episode of the animated series The Simpsons ( Who Shot Mr. Burns?, Parts 1 and 2 from Seasons 6 and 7 ).


Tito Puente Way in Spanish Harlem

Puente released over 100 albums that sold millions of copies; which includes

  • El Rey del Timbal 1949–1951 (1991)
  • Cuando suenan los Tambores (1992)
  • The King of the Cha-Cha Mambo (1995)
  • The Best of Tito Puente (1997)
  • Tito Puente - 50 Years of Swing (1997)

See also


  • Stephen Loza: Tito Puente and the Making of Latin Music . University of Illinois Press, 1999, ISBN 0-252-02332-3 (biography; English)
  • Jim Payne : Tito Puente: King of Latin Music . Hudson Music, 2006, ISBN 1423413350 , (biography; English, with DVD)

Web links

Commons : Tito Puente  - Collection of images, videos and audio files