Ernesto Antonio (AKA Tito) Puente would have turned 97 today. I had a good musician friend that played Puente’s 1958 classic album, Dance Mania quite a bit whenever I visited him in his Albuquerque home. I remember the first time I heard, El Cayuco, and was blown away how good that song sounded. This tight, swinging song was fantastic. I bought the Dance Mania CD a few days later and wore that song out. It has become a part of my rotation of songs I listen to on a regular basis.
I was so glad when Tito Puente re-released a longer version on his live DanceMania ’99 CD and got over eight minutes of this great song that is a dancers delight. Other songs like Complication, Mambo & Blues, and A Donde Vas adds vitality and freshness that makes you want to dance and listen simultaneously.
I was so glad my musician friend turned me on the King of Latin music and opened my musical world up to a new place that I had not grown up with before. Great music has a way of bringing all types of people together and Tito Puente did that for many years. He has left an indelible mark on the contemporary American musical landscape and definitely belongs in the same neighborhood with musicians like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Wonder. It’s great to see Tito Puente Jr. carry on his father’s legacy and bring Afro-Cuban music (Nuyorican style) to the world. We need some feel good music these days for obvious reasons and Tito Puente brought that kind of music in his long, illustrious career. Happy Birthday Tito Puente and your music will be forgotten!