Tito Puente

With well over 100 albums to his credit, Tito Puente was perhaps the most enduring and best-loved Latin superstar. In concert he pointed out for the uninitiated (fans chanting "Salsa! Salsa!" already knew) that he was not Cuban but Puerto Rican -- actually "New Yorican," being a New York native. His work reflects nearly everything in Latin-American music: mambo and other dance rhythms, instrumentals (he played all manner of Latin percussion, piano, alto sax, etc.), support for vocalists, jazz, and at least one album of pounding drum exotica in the style of Sabu Martínez (1960's astounding Tambó).

Ernest (Tito) Puente, Jr. began in 1923 as a dancer and occasional percussionist. Following stints with his sister and a band called Los Happy Boys, he worked his way up to substituting for Machito's drummer in 1941. Only a year before, Arsenio Rodriguez had introduced the conga drum! A few 1940s Machito recordings feature Puente on timbales. From there he joined Noro Morales and José Curbelo, followed by the U.S. Navy during WWII and Juilliard. After schooling, he worked for Pupi Campo, providing the arrangements and playing; Pupi Campo recordings are some of the earliest sides arranged by and featuring Puente. He formed his own group in 1949 with Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, and the team of Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo.

The 1950s were his most productive decade, as he recorded extensively with Tico and RCA Victor. The beautiful Tico albums, recorded with a smaller group, are more authentic but somewhat repetitive. His introduction of the vibraphone and timbal solos into Latin music are heard here. The RCA records vary but include most of his biggest early successes and much of his most creative work. With RCA he had top material and all the personnel necessary to handle big-band Latin jazz. After leaving RCA, two decades with Tico yielded many impressive results.

One of Puente's favorite stories is about "Oye Como Va," which was covered by Joe Cuba and later Santana. He had groused about its being called "a Santana tune" until he saw the amount of the royalty check! Santana's hit version drew new attention to its author. As arranger and composer, Puente is considered a major force in Latin and Latin jazz. As Tico's leading mambo-vibes player, and master of timbales and other percussion, his influence is unmatched. And, one of the Palladium's Two Titos, he will be remembered for putting on a tremendous live show. Even his last concert performances on film and television bear out his reputation.

Buying: Top picks are most of the early albums on Victor (for much of the greatest use of RCA's resources ever in Latin music) and Tico (for definitive mambo-jazz vibes and timbales). His treatment of Latin soul on later Tico albums is some of the best of that idiom.

Pupi Campo LPs (part Puente)

Pupi Campo: Mambos, Vol. 1 10"; Tico LP-113
7Pupi Campo: Cuban Rhythms & Mambos 10"; Seeco SLP-2
7Pupi Campo: Latin Dance Party Volume 5; Seeco SCLP-9084 (reissues 6 of 8 cuts on the 10"; adds 6 more)
7Pupi Campo: 12 Cha-Chas & Merengues; Hollywood LPH-23 (partly also on 7" EP Cha Chas and Merengues; Varsity EPV-6007; with same jacket as affiliate Best B-506 and as Pupi Campo Orchestra: Cha-Cha and Merengue; Stardust SDS-110--electronic stereo)
8Pupi Campo & his Sextet: Mambo Americana; Coral CRL-56107 (mambo jazz; also on 2-part EP)
7Various: Mambos 10"; Seeco Tropical Series STLP-1 (five cuts)
7Various: Rhumbas 10"; Seeco Tropical Series STLP-2 (one cut: "Mi Bumba Ne")

Tito Puente 10" LPs

7Tito Puente: Mambos, Vol. 1; Tico LP-101; copyright 1949
Tito Puente: Mambos, Vol. 2; Tico LP-103
Tito Puente: Mambos, Vol. 3; Tico LP-107
8Tito Puente: Mambos, Vol. 4; Tico LP-114
Tito Puente: Mambos, Vol. 5; Tico LP-116
Tito Puente--King of the Mambo & his Orchestra (Vol. 7); Tico LP-120
8Tito Puente, his Vibes, & his Rhythm Quartette; Tico LP-124 (jacket 1 sketch of drumming/dancing figures backed w/catalog--"Tico Mambos"; jacket 2 sketch of Puente backed w/photo/liners; --"At the Vibes, Vol. 6")
7Tito Puente--King of the Cha Cha Mambo & his Orchestra: Cha Cha Cha (Vol. 1); Tico LP-128
Tito Puente: Cha Cha Cha, Vol. 2; Tico LP-130
Tito Puente: Mambos, Vol. 8; Tico LP-131
Tito Puente: Instrumental Mambos; Tico LP-133
7Tito Puente: Cha Cha Cha, Vol. 3; Tico LP-134 (A-side = EP 42)
8Tito Puente: Mambo on Broadway; RCA Victor LPM-3164

Tito Puente 12" LPs

8Mamborama; Tico LP-1001
7Mambo with Me; Tico LP-1003
7Cha Cha Chas for Lovers; Tico LP-1005
6Tito Puente [Dance the Cha Cha Cha]; Tico LP-1010 (repeats 4 from 10" LP-134)
8Puente in Percussion; Tico LP-1011
6Basic Cha Cha Chas (w/Pete Terrace); Tico LP-1032
Tito Puente Swings/Vicentico Valdes Sings; Tico LP-1049
8Cuban Carnival; RCA Victor LPM-1251; 1955
5Puente Goes Jazz; RCA Victor Birdland LPM-1312; 1956
8Mambo on Broadway; RCA Victor LPM-1354; 1957
5Let's Cha-Cha with Puente; RCA Victor LPM-1392; 1957
7Night Beat; RCA Victor LPM-1447; 1957
6Mucho Puente; RCA Victor LPM-1479; 1957
8Top Percussion; RCA Victor LSP-1617; 1958
7Dance Mania; RCA Victor LSP-1692; 1958
6Herman's Heat & Puente's Beat; Everest SDBR-1010/LPBR-5010; 1958 (Side 1 Woody Herman; Side 2: Latin Flight, New Cha-Cha, Mambo Herd, Cha-Cha Chick, Tito Meets Woody, Carioca)
Brasilia Nueve; Decca DL-74910
8Puente in Love; Tico LP-1058; 1959 (repeats much of 10" LP-124)
5Dancing Under Latin Skies; RCA Victor LSP-1874; 1959/1958
6Mucho Cha Cha; RCA Victor LSP-2113; 1959
6Cha Cha at Grossinger's; RCA Victor LSP-2187; 1960/1959
Puente in Caracas (Dance Mania Vol. II, also La Epoca de Oro; RCA Victor/International FSP-217)
8Tambó; RCA Victor LSP-2257; 1960 (w/ Ray Barretto, Patato Valdez, Jose Mangual Sr., Catalino Rolon, Chickie Perez, Willie Rodriguez, Ana Correro, Alberto Socarras, Santos Colon..)
6Tito Puente & Buddy Morrow: Revolving Bandstand; RCA Victor LSP-2299; 1974
7The Exciting Tito Puente Band in Hollywood; GNP/Crescendo GNP-70 (The Exciting Tito Puente Band: Puente Now!; GNPS-2048)
4Pachanga con Puente; Tico SLP-1083; 1961
Vaya Puente; Tico SLP-1085; 1962
8El Rey Bravo; Tico SLP-1086; 1962
6Bossa Nova by Puente; Roulette SR-25193; 1962
7In Puerto Rico; Tico SLP-1088; 1963
6Tito Puente & his Orchestra: Tito Puente Bailables; Tico SLP-1093; 1963 (partly Latin jazz & Latin soul)
7Exitante Ritmo/Exciting Rhythm of; Tico SLP-1106; 1963 (partly Latin soul-guajira & Latin jazz)
More Dance Mania; RCA Victor LSP-7147; 1963/1959
Tito Puente y Parece Bobo; Alegre SLPA-8420; 1963
The Perfect Combination; Alegre SLP-A853 (w/Gilberto Monroig)
8El Mundo Latino de/The Latin World of; Roulette/Tico SLP-1109; 1964 (compilation)
6Mucho Puente/Plenty Puente; Roulette/Tico SLP-1115; 1964
7De Mi Para Ti/From Me to You; Roulette/Tico SLP-1116; 1964 (w/Santos Colon)
4My Fair Lady Goes Latin; Roulette/Tico SR-25276; 1964
6Gilberto Monroig [with Tito Puente]: The Best of Gilberto Monroig; Roulette/Tico SLP-1117; 1964 (compilation)
7The Best of; RCA Victor LSP-2974e; 1965 (compilation)
Tito Puente Swings, The Exciting Lupe Sings; Tico SLP-1121; 1965
Tu y Yo/You & I; Tico SLP-1125; 1965 (w/La Lupe)
6Carnaval en Harlem; Tico SLP-1127; 1966 (w/Santos Colon)
Homenaje a Rafael Hernandez (with La Lupe); Tico SLP-1131; 1966
6Tito Puente & Celia Cruz: Cuba y Puerto Rico son...; Tico SLP-1136; 1966
8Tito Puente's 20th Anniversary; Tico SLP-1151; 1967/1966 (Latin, Latin jazz, boogaloo)
6El Rey y Yo/The King & I (w/La Lupe); Tico SLP-1154
Shawn Elliot/Tito Puente: What Now My Love; Tico SLP-1156
8El Rey Tito Puente (The King); Tico SLP-1172
8Tito Puente en el Puente/Tito Puente on the Bridge; Tico SLP-1191 (w/Machito on one cut)
Quimbo Quimbumbia; Tico SLP-1193 (w/Celia Cruz)
Tito Puente con Orgullo; Tico SLP-1198 (w/Sophy)
La Lloroncita: El Sol Brilla Para Todos; Tico SLP-1206
Etc., Etc., Etc.; Tico SLP-1207 (w/Celia Cruz)
7Lo Mejor de/The Best of; Tico SLP-1203 (compilation)
8Pa'Lante!/Straight; Tico SLP-1214; 1970
Alma Con Alma/The Heart & Soul of; Tico SLP-1221 (w/Celia Cruz)
Celia Cruz y Tito Puente en Espana; Tico SLP-1227
8Para Los Rumberos; Tico SLP-1301; 1972
Algo Especial Para Recordar w/Celia Cruz; Tico SLP-1304
7Ti Mon Bo; RCA International FSP-241e; 1969/1949-57 (compilation)
8Tito Puente & his Concert Orchestra; Tico CLP-1308; 1973 (prod. Joe Cain; w/Charlie Palmieri, Vinnie Bell)
7Tito Unlimited; Tico SLP-1322; 1974 (Latin disco)
8Tito Puente w/Santos Colon: No Hay Mejor/There is No Better; Tico SLP-1401; 1975 (compilation)
7Los Originales; Tico SLP-1411; 1976 (w/Santos Colon)
5Tito Puente: The Legend; Tico SLP-1413; 1977
La Pareja T.P. & La Lupe; Tico SLP-1430
8Homenaje a Beny More Vol. 2; Tico SLP-1436; 1979 (w/Celia Cruz, Tito Allen, Santos Colon, Cheo Feliciano, Frankie Figueroa, Jr. Gonzalez, Hector Lavoe, Ismael Miranda, Ismael Quintana, Pete "Conde" Rodriguez, Adalberto Santiago, Luigi Texidor)
Dance Mania 80's; Tico SLP-1439
Ce-Magnifique; Tico SLP-1440 (w/Azuquita)
Pachanga in NY; Gema 1145 (w/Roland La'Serie)
Tito Puente & Friend; Tropical 5138
On Broadway; Concord Picante CJP-207
El Rey; Concord Picante CJP-250
8Tito Puente & his Latin Ensemble: Mambo Diablo; Concord Picante CJP-283; 1985

Sideman/Partly Tito Puente LPs

7Ray Barretto: Tomorrow--Barretto Live; Atlantic SD-2-509; 1976 (2-LP; w/guest Tito Puente on side-long "Que Viva la Musica")
8Candido: Brujerias de Candido/Candido's Latin McGuffa's Dust; Tico SLP-1142; 1966 (w/Cachao; Latin/-jazz/-soul/calypso)
Bobby Capo: Invitation to Love; Musicor MS-6035/MM-4035; 1968
Santos Colon: Imagenes; Tico SLP-1213
Rafael Cortijo: Caballo De Hierro; Coco CLP-130X
7Quincy Jones: Around the World; Mercury PPS-6014 ("Baia"; also w/Olatunji)
8Abbe Lane: Be Mine Tonight; RCA Victor LSP-1554; 1958
Rolando Lasarie: Salsa Peliculos; Musart; 1973
6The Latin All Stars: Latin Jam Boree; Roper RRLPS-1021; 1973 (arrangements w/Charlie Palmieri)
6The Latin All Stars: A-More Cha-Cha & Merengue; Roper RRLPS-1040; 1973 (arrangements w/Charlie Palmieri, Alfredito)
7El Lupo: El Fantastico; Cotique 1028
6Orquesta de la Luz: Sin Fronteras; Sony/RMM RMCL-80652; 1991
Menique: Menique; Cotique 1068
5Noraida: La Barbara del Mundo Latino; Tico SLP-1223 (1 Charlie Palmieri arrangement)
Noraida: Me Voy a Deaquitar; Tico SLP-1226
7Charlie Palmieri: ElectroDuro; Coco 111; 1974 (w/Cortijo, Tito Puente, Roberto Roena, Cachao..)
Astor Piazola & his Quintet: Take Me Dancing; Tico SLP-1066
5Puente/Pepe Luis: Cha Cha Cha at the El Morocco; Tico LP-1025
8Manny Roman: Eras--the Romantic Voice of Manny Roman; Decca DL-74879 (prod. Richard Marin; vocals arr. Tito Puente)
Santitos: Santos Colon; Fania
Sophy: Te Reto; Tico SLP-1222
7Tico All-Stars: Descargas at the Village Gate Vol. 1: Tico SLP-1135 (Chocolate Armenteros, Ray Barretto, Cachao, Candido, Joe Cuba, Johnny Pacheco, Charlie Palmieri, Eddie Palmieri, Victor Paz, Chino Pozo, Tito Puente, Barry Rogers, Jimmy Sabater..)
5Tico All-Stars: Descargas at the Village Gate Vol. 2: Tico SLP-1145 (Chocolate Armenteros, Ray Barretto, Cachao, Candido, Joe Cuba, Johnny Pacheco, Charlie Palmieri, Eddie Palmieri, Victor Paz, Chino Pozo, Tito Puente, Barry Rogers, Jimmy Sabater..)
7Tico All-Stars: Descargas at the Village Gate Vol. 3: Tico SLP-1155 (Chocolate Armenteros, Ray Barretto, Cachao, Candido, Joe Cuba, Johnny Pacheco, Charlie Palmieri, Eddie Palmieri, Victor Paz, Chino Pozo, Tito Puente, Barry Rogers, Jimmy Sabater..)
8Cal Tjader: Primo; Fantasy F-9422; 1973 (arr. Tito Puente, Charlie Palmieri)
8Various: 12 Top Tunes 1967; Tico TRLP-1163; 1967 (compilation of Tico/Alegre prod. Pancho Cristal; 1/2 Latin soul; "Fat Mama"; Pete Rodriguez, La Lupe, Joe Cuba, Eddie Palmieri, Celio Gonzalez, Ismael Rivera/Cortijo, Ricardo Ray, Charlie Palmieri, Celia Cruz, Hugo Leonel Vacarro, Los Chavales de Espana)
716th Salsa Festival Live from Madison Square Garden; RMM; 1991 (live; Ricardo Ray/Bobby Cruz/Ralph Mercado, El Gran Combo, Orq. de la Luz/Tito Puente, Oscar d'Leon, Hermanos Moreno, Grupo Niche)
6Various: Basic Cha Cha Cha; Tico LP-1032
6Various: Cha Cha Cha Carnival; Tico/Forum SF-9051 (Tico/Forum Circle FCS-9096)
4Various: Crossover Dreams ST; Elektra/Asylum 9-60470-1-E; 1976
6Various: The Dancing Beat of the Latin Bands; RCA Victor LSP-2087; 1959
Various: In the Land of Cha Cha; Tico LP-1059; 1959
Various: I Dreamt I Danced the Cha Cha Cha; Tico LP-1060; 1959
Various (Fania All Stars): Live at the Red Garter Vol.1; Fania SLP-355
7Various: Latin Golden Oldies for Dancing Vol. 1; Tico SLP-1097; 1959
Various: Latin Golden Oldies for Dancing Vol. 2; Tico SLP-1100; 1959
6Various: Latin Spectacular--Starring Tito Puente; Guest Star GS-1407 (Alfredito, Puente "Pachanga Beat" & "Cha Cha Mambo", Machito, Joe Loco, Tito Rodriguez, Martino Savanto)
7Various: Mambo Caravan; Tico LP-1007 (Joe Loco, Machito, Tito Puente)
7Various: Canciones Mi Mama No Me Enseno/Spanish Songs Mama Never Taught Me; Tico SLP-1111 (Joe Cuba, Miguelito Valdes, Tito Puente, Machito, Graciela)
7Various: Mas Canciones Mi Mama No Me Enseno/More Spanish Songs Mama Never Taught Me; Tico SLP-1120 (same artists)
7Various: Music for Romancing; Tico LP-1009 (compilation/sampler; Tito Puente, Neil Lewis, Tico Orchestra, Melino Orchestra, Eddie Barclay)
7Various: Perfect for Dancing--Mambos; RCA Victor LPM-1067; 1955 (Tito Rodriguez, Tito Puente, Aldemaro Romero, Noro Morales, Tony Martinez, Perez Prado)
7Various: Perfect for Dancing--Rumbas; RCA Victor LPM-1069; 1955 [Jose Curbelo (Rumba Rumbero, Mary Ann Calypso), Jose Morand (Dream Mist, Tru-Cu-Tu-Son), Tito Puente (Arinanara, Lagrimas Negras), Miguelito Valdes (Jungle Drums, Always in My Heart, La Comparsa, Say Si Si, The Breeze and I-Andalucia, Tito Rodriguez (Ya lo Puedes Decir)]
Various: Recordando a Arsenio; Tico SLP-1231
6Various: Tico Selector (Tico Gallery); Tico TS-1
6Various: Tito Puente; Embajador E-6006
4Various: Tito Rodriguez--Latin Fiesta; Guest Star GS-1422

[Partly] Tito Puente 7" 45s & EPs

7Pupi Campo: Cha Chas and Merengues; Varsity EPV-6007
8Pupi Campo & his Sextet: Mambo Americana Vol. 1; Coral EC-81093 (mambo jazz)
8Pupi Campo & his Sextet: Mambo Americana Vol. 2; Coral EC-81094 (mambo jazz)
9Tito Puente: Timbal & Bongo/Ran-Kan-Kan; RCA Victor 47-5829 (promo/preview at least)
8Tito Puente: Mambo on Broadway EP; RCA Victor EPB-3164 (2-disc)
6Tito Puente: Moritat--Bye-yon Rhythm/Mama Ines--Mambo-Cha-cha-Merengue; RCA Victor 47-6417
8Tito Puente: Que Sera/[Para los] Rumberos (For Dancers); RCA Victor (single & A-side of Harry Belafonte promo EP 47-6735/DJ-33)
6The Versatones w/Tito Puente: Calypso Blues/Cubana Bay; RCA Victor (single & B-side of Perry Como promo EP 47-6819/DJ-69)
7Tito Puente, featuring The Versatones: Silly Lil/Calypso Merengue; RCA Victor 47-6901 (both sides calypso, vocal)
7Tito Puente: Camellia/In the Happy Land of Hunza; RCA Victor 47-7055 (B-side cha cha cha from "Search for Paradise")
8Tito Puente: Cute Chick/A La Salud--God Bless You; RCA Victor 47-7372
Tito Puente: Mambos...by Tito Puente; Tico EP 1 (Tropicana, Mambo Rama, Caravan Mambo, Mambo Inn)
Tito Puente: Mambos...by Tito Puente; Tico EP 2 (Calypso Mambo, Guaguanco en Tropicana, Mambo la Roca, Membo en Blues)
Tito Puente: Mambos...by Tito Puente; Tico EP 3 (Babarabatiri, Cuban Cutie, A Burujon Punao, Cuban Mambo)
7Tito Puente: Mambos...by Tito Puente; Tico EP 7 (El Mambo Diablo, La Guira, Ta Bueno Pa Baila, Aprieta El Pollo)
Tito Puente: Mambos...by Tito Puente; Tico EP 8 (Guajeo en Dominante, Tatalibaba, Mambo Gallego, Mambo Suavecito)
Tito Puente: Mambos...by Tito Puente; Tico EP 11 (Mambiando, Camina Camaron, Este Tumbao, Cuero Nama)
7Tito Puente: Mambos...by Tito Puente; Tico EP 12 (Temptation, What is this Thing Called Love, I Get a Kick Out of You, Autumn Leaves)
Tito Puente: Mambos...by Tito Puente; Tico EP 14 (Mambo Birdland, Mambo City, Mambo Mist, Mambo Night)
Tito Puente: Mambos; Tico EP 20 (Titoro, Penjamo, El Rey del Timbal, Tinguaro)
8Tito Puente: Mambos; Tico EP 29 (Ran Kan Kan, Autumn in Rome, Mambo with Me, Happy Heart)
7Tito Puente: Mambos; Tico EP 32 (Philadelphia Mambo, The Carioca, 1626 Madison Avenue, Cool Mambo)
7Tito Puente: Mambos; Tico EP 42 (= A-side of 10" LP 134; Keep in Tempo, Cha Cha Cha for Lovers, Carolina Cha Cha Cha, Enjoy My Cha Cha Cha)
8Tito Puente: Ran Kan Kan/Happy Heart; Tico 228 (B-side non-LP cut)
9Tito Puente: Mambo Birdland/Mambo City; Tico 182
9Tito Puente: George Woods Mambo/Confucious Mambo; Tico 206
Miguelito Valdez/Jocinto Roman: Latin American Music for Dancing; Monogram MEP-106 (Puente arranged "Palladium Mambo," "Tito Puente Chang")
7The Gaucho 20 Piece Studio Band: Luz a Babalu (Tributo a Miguelito Valdez)/Don Alfredo; Gaucho 45-8007; 1979 (A-side Al Santiago, Charlie Palmieri; B-side Jose Madera, Machito singing, Tito Puente, Bobby Rodriguez)

[Partly] Tito Puente 78s

7Pupi Campo: Hi-Hi-Hi/Mucho Que Mucho; Tico 10-112

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