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Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival, 1977

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Album Review

Tito Puente played the Monterey Jazz Festival for the first time in 1977, leading a big band that immediately ignited the crowd with his rousing "Para Los Rumberos." Before the conga player even gave the audience a chance to cool off, he immediately launches into "Oye Como Va," a huge hit for Latin rocker Carlos Santana, a piece that Fillmore East impresario Bill Graham introduced to the guitarist by playing Puente's early record of it. The fire is often present throughout the set, with the punch of the horn section and infectious percussion, though ballads like "Delirio" prove just as effective. One of the surprises is Puente's effective cha cha arrangement of Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing," demonstrating that he always was interested in any good melody regardless of its stylistic origin. Vibraphonist and Latin jazz bandleader Cal Tjader is an added guest for the closing number "Picadillo." This never dull Monterey set is a reminder as to why Tito Puente was one of the true giants of Latin Jazz.


Born: 20 April 1923 in New York, NY

Genre: Latino

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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