HomeJazzTito Puente Was El Rey de los Timbales Carl November 15, 2013 Jazz, Latin I am not sure why this bio of Tito Puente ended up on a site called Cengage Learning, but it did. It does the job, too: Tito Puente is internationally recognized for his seminal contributions to Latin music as a bandleader, composer, arranger, and percussionist. Known as “El Rey,” or The King of Mambo, he has recorded an unprecedented 100 albums, published more than 400 compositions, and won four Grammy awards. “In a day when pop singers fake their way to the top and when for many artists, success is the child of hype, Puente is one of only a handful of musicians who deserve the title ‘legendary,'” Mark Holston stated in Américas. Credited with introducing the timbal — a double tom-tom played with sticks — and the vibraphone to Afro-Cuban music, Puente also plays the trap drums, the conga drums, the claves, the piano, and occasionally, the saxophone and the clarinet. While Puente is perhaps best known for his all-time best-selling 1958 mambo album Dance Mania, his eclectic sound has continued to transcend cultural and generational boundaries. As a testament to his popularity with a younger audience, Puente has recorded with rocker Carlos Santana and has performed regularly at college concerts throughout the country. He has also appeared in several films, received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and performed on television’s The David Letterman Show. (Continue Reading…) Here is the beginning of Puente’s Wikipedia profile: Ernesto Antonio “Tito” Puente, (April 20, 1923 – June 1, 2000), was a Latin jazz and salsa musician and composer. The son of native Puerto Ricans, Ernest and Ercilia Puente, living in New York City’sSpanish Harlem community, Puente is often credited as “The Musical Pope,” “El Rey de los Timbales” (The King of the timbales) and “The King of Latin Music.” He is best known for dance-oriented mambo and Latin jazz compositions that helped keep his career going for 50 years. He and his music appear in many films such as The Mambo Kings and Fernando Trueba‘s Calle 54. He guest-starred on several television shows including Sesame Street, The Cosby Show and The Simpsons. (Continue Reading…) Check out this nice illustrated bio of Puente, which seems to be aimed at kids. Above is “Maria Cervantes” and below is “Oye Como Va” which, of course, was a cross-over hit for Santana.