Tito Puente

Tito Puente (1923-192000) was an arranger, percussionist and bandleader from New York, New York. Puente, Ernesto Antonio Puente, Jr. was born in New York, New York, on April 20, 1923. He is known for his pioneering musical style mixing with Latin sounds, and for his experiments with blending Latin music with jazz. Puente, the son of Puerto Rican immigrants was born in New York City’s Spanish Harlem. He took piano lessons as an infant and later studied percussion. At the age of 13, he became a professional musician. Tito Puente learned to play many instruments over the years, including the piano and vibraphone. After an apprenticeship with the Machito Orchestra, Puente was drafted and served his country in the Navy during World War II. Puente borrowed money from the G.I. after he returned to New York, in 1945. Bill went to the Juilliard School of Music. In 1948, he formed the Tito Puente Orchestra. His band was a hit with the masses and Puente became a Latin music star in the 1950s. His best-selling album Dance Mania was released in 1958. As the world appreciated the way Puente put a big-band spin on traditional Latin dances, more hits followed. His repertoire included Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms, such as cha cha and bossa nova. He also performed with jazz musicians George Shearing, Woody Herman and many other stars of Latin music. Puente was a legend in Latin music, jazz and other genres over a more than 50-year career. He recorded more than 100 albums, and he wrote more than 200 songs. Puente was awarded numerous awards, including five Grammy Awards. He was sometimes called “El Rey”, the King of Latin Jazz, or simply “King” – the King. His work has a lasting impact on popular culture. Oscar Hijuelos, a writer, made Puente a character in 1989’s novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Puente also appeared in the 1992 film adaptation. Many television shows featured him, including The Simpsons. Tito Puente, a New York heart surgeon, died May 31, 2000. Many people lined up for days to say goodbye to the bandleader, who was loved by so many. Text contributed by users is available under Creative Commons By–SA License. It may also be available under GNU FDL.

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