The back half of the weekend birthday shindiggery is all about one of, if not the preeminent, acknowledged kings of Latin music.
His legendary music and influence is so wide and deep, I only just learned researching this post that he wasn't born in Cuba, but in New York City.
That's how authentic the material he used to construct his musical revolution was... to be from Spanish Harlem and sound for all the world like you have lived and breathed Havana.
I remember seeing him on television when I was a little kid, and being struck (yes, struck... battered, even) by how hard he hit the drums and how happy that seemed to make him.
I suppose I carry some of that spirit in my own percussive adventures... that primal sense of abandon coupled with that directed, clocklike force. Well, I have the reckless abandon part down anyway.
There isn't much else you could say about Tito Puente, except that he was born this day in 1923. And that he is essentially the Godfather of Afro-Cuban jazz in particular, and of what is generally termed modern Latin music in general.
He'd have been 96 today, and although he's been gone almost 20 years, we will remember him with this fantastic all-star set from the Estival in Switzerland.
This is another one of those pristine, near-perfect captures where I guess the sound guy or gal had a DAT recorder and got the whole show, start to finish, in almost the best possible audio fidelity.
Look out for sax colossus James Moody, flute deity Dave Valentin and percussion shaman Mongo Santamaria -- plus a keyboard-shattering series of killer piano excursions from Hilton Ruiz -- standing out amongst the titanic assembly of Latin Jazz heroes onstage with Maestro Tito here.
Tito Puente's Golden Men of Latin Jazz
Piazza Della Riforma
01 New Arrival
03 Giant Steps
05 Afro Blue
06 Oye Como Va
Total time: 1:13:58
Tito Puente - timbales, percussion, vocals
Mongo Santamaria - bongos, percussion
Giovanni Hidalgo - congas, percussion
James Moody - saxophone, flute
Charlie Sepulveda - trumpet
Dave Valentin - flute
Hilton Ruiz - piano
Andy Gonzales - bass
Ignacio Berroa - drums
1st generation DAT copy of a master soundboard DAT capture, resampled to 44.1 CD Audio
from the Swissbird archives
418 MB FLAC here
I will be back to finish out April with a whole slew of stew at the end of the month.
If you're smart, though, you'll live in the moment and paste your ears and swiveling hips to this 74 minutes of grooves played with such clarity and tightness, you almost feel like you're trancing out to precision loops at certain points.
For now Tito Puente -- yes it's his birthday today and you ought never forget his contribution to the music we love -- and his all-star army of hall-of-fame Latin Jazz warriors, lighting the fuse on this monster hit of festival ecstasy, are calling you to the caliente.--J.
4.20.1923 - 5.31.2000