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Puente Now! The Exciting Tito Puente Band

Tito Puente

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Album Review

Originally released under the name The Exciting Tito Puente Band in Hollywood in 1961, Puente Now! The Exciting Tito Puente Band is an ironically named time capsule of the state of Latin jazz in the early '60s. Although the New York-based Puente is of Puerto Rican descent and most often worked in an Afro-Cuban style, the big buzz in Latin music at this time was all Brazil, all the time. The success of Black Orpheus and the attendant interest in samba (soon to mutate into bossa nova) colors this entire album, including a lovely rearrangement of the soundtrack's centerpiece tune, "Carnival." Other highlights include the frenetic "Baila Pachanga," based on a short-lived Afro-Cuban dance craze; "Guarija Flute," a showcase for flutist Rolando Lozato; a mellow but effective samba-fied reworking of the standard "April in Paris"; and "T.P. on the Strip," an odd little theme song that sounds like a collaboration between Desi Arnaz and Esquivel. This is very much an album of its time, and certainly not among Tito Puente's finest efforts, but it's an interesting time capsule of its era.

Biography

Born: 20 April 1923 in New York, NY

Genre: Salsa and Tropical

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

By virtue of his warm, flamboyant stage manner, longevity, constant touring, and appearances in the mass media, Tito Puente is probably the most beloved symbol of Latin jazz. But more than that, Puente managed to keep his music remarkably fresh over the decades; as a timbales virtuoso, he combined mastery over every rhythmic nuance with old-fashioned showmanship — watching his eyes bug out when taking a dynamic solo was one of the great treats for Latin jazz fans. A trained musician, he was...
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