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Mambo Birdland (Live)

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Album Review

On this Grammy-winning CD, Puente and a 20-piece big band unleash a fiery live set at Birdland in New York City. The band is loaded with such all-stars as saxophonists Peter Yellin and Mitch Frohman, the equally legendary sax/flute master Mario Rivera, trumpeter Ray Vega, pianist Sonny Bravo, conga vet Jose Madera, bongo/conga man John Rodriguez, Jr., and lead vocalist Frankie Morales, among others. Puente's writing prowess is on display on seven of the 11 cuts. A wild combination of unison and counterpointed horns with churning rhythm informs the Puente-penned title track. Group vocals and swirling horns cement the guaguanco-based "Juventud del Presente," one of two pieces written by Silvestre Mendez. "Ban Ban Quere" is a famous Latin-jazz standard, done here in swift rumba mode featuring Bravo's deft montuno and off-tune coro. A quick tempo and steady, slow beat drive "Como Esta Miguel," which features a fine trombone solo from J.P. Torres. Rivera's immortal flute gives off a strong, steady vibe that the band picks up on for "Cha Cha Cha Mambo." The other Mendez track, "Guaguanco Margarito," is flavored by bata drums, and "Mi Mambia" features a group chorus in full bloom. The ultra-hot Puente chart "Mambo Gozon" is spurred by bubbling percussion led by Rodriguez and Tito on timbales (which he plays exclusively for this performance), while "Oye Mi Guaguanco" uses vocals and horns trading eights, then fours, in the initial melody lines. The set ends with two classics: "Ran Kan Kan" has feverish horns, jubilant singing, and a hefty timbale solo, while "Oye Como Va" is spiced with Rivera's brilliant flute accents. Puente has put out more than 100 recordings over his long career, but in little over an hour, this skillfully edited live session manages to capture the essence of that huge repertoire and get to the pure root of Latin jazz. Highly recommended. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Know your history BEFORE you write a review!!

The reviewer "Kennyszub" is so very obviously MIS-INFORMED and myopic that he can't even provide meaningful details except to say "way better." Nevertheless ... if Kennyszub REALLY knew what he was talking about, he would realize that none of us would have ever even HEARD of Santana if it weren't for the many inroads that Tito Puente provided for decades into Latin music (and indeed, all "World Musics") in this country! While this particular album is not an all-encompasing profile of Puente at his best (check the other retrospectives for that), it should give the uninitiated a very brief idea of why even SANTANA himself acknowledged that he owed much of his success to the ground that Tito had broken.

"Kenyszub" YOU ARE A MORON!

I was priviliged to able to see el maestro Tito Puente play live a few times....Every single time was incredible and as he aged, his music just got better! This record is excellent; Frankie Morales has a good voice; different than Ruben Blades when singing "Ban Ban Quere" but good nevertheless.... No One plays "Oye Como Va" better than Tito Puente!!!!!

instuments

What I enjoy most about this album are the drum rhythms. The congas stand out the most, second to that are the bongos. But you can't for get the cowbell, nor the timbales.

Biography

Born: April 20, 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...
Full Bio