Celebrating a career that spanned over fifty years Ernest Anthony Puente Jr., better known as Tito Puente, was a musician, songwriter, bandleader and record producer of Puerto Rican descent. His music has helped popularise Latin sounds over the decades and he is probably best known for his dance-orientated mambo and Latin-jazz compositions – Oye Como Va is probably the song you will recognise, this is his most famous one!!
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-chá, to mainstream audiences. Puente was so successful playing popular Afro-Cuban rhythms that many people mistakenly identify him as Cuban. His repertoire is immense and both Puente and his music has made many an appearance on screen, featuring in films such as The Mambo Kings and Fernando Trueba’s Calle 54. He has even guest-starred on several television shows, including Sesame Street and The Simpsons two-part episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”.
Known as “El Rey Del Timbal” (“The King Of The Timbales”), Tito Puente also played vibraphone, drum kit, conga drums, claves, piano, and occasionally saxophone and clarinet. His rhythmic skills are what I particularly revere him for and today’s song demonstrates that perfectly!!! Delivering just what it says on the tin, Tito on Timbales treats you to just over five minutes of ravishing percussion!! It’s hypnotic and completely orientated around the beat, with rhythms pulsating eagerly over a repeated melody. It’s a crazy treat to the ears if drumming is your thing and I’d happily lose myself amidst this glorious feast of drumming any day! Tito on Timbales appears on Tito Puente’s 1956 Puente In Percussion LP!
Check it out above and if you fancy seeing him live, I’ve added a little video of him playing for your pleasure!