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Salsa - Released May 21, 2009 | Sony Music Latin

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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World - Released April 24, 2012 | Fania

Fania's double-disc Tito Puente Anthology is, for all practical purposes, a much shorter version of the grand El Rey compilation issued in 2010 -- which is still available. While that set contained 45 cuts from 1949 through 1981 spread over its two discs, Anthology contains a mere 27 (all of them on El Rey), and they cost the same. And, while the front cover on this baby is hipper, the liner notes in El Rey went far deeper. So even though the music is still terrific, El Rey is the choice, hands down. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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World - Released April 19, 2011 | Fania

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World - Released February 8, 2019 | Universal Digital Enterprises

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World - Released September 28, 2010 | Fania

In what is perhaps the most admirable reissue campaign in Latin music history, Emusica head Giora Breil commissioned Joe Conzo to compile and annotate a four-volume collection -- later reissued as a two-part series of box sets, each set having four discs -- from the dawn of Tito Puente's leadership of a band, a series of 156 songs recorded from 1949 to 1955 and released on the Tico label as 78 rpm records. Although Puente was recording for RCA around the same time (those sides appear on The Complete RCA Recordings, Vol. 1), these Tico songs present a far different side of the Latin maestro, and there are few parallels between the material. Where Puente was recording plentiful swing crossovers for RCA ("Tuxedo Junction" and "Take the 'A' Train" in addition to his early masterpiece "Ran Kan Kan"), his material for Tico found him keeping mostly to what his core audience in Spanish Harlem wanted to hear: plentiful hard mambos with the occasional bolero or ballad and, overall, few direct concessions to mainstream music. This was the equivalent of Duke Ellington on OKeh or Charlie Parker on Dial -- recordings for the hardcore faithful that showed a band as it existed instead of as it wanted to be sold. However, despite assumptions either way, that doesn't necessarily make this a better or worse set than the fruits of the RCA years, and indeed, for a crossover audience whose numbers usually overwhelm the core base, Puente's Tico recordings will be less familiar and even less dynamic. But the level of musicianship was high, with future heroes Mario Bauzá, Mongo Santamaría, Charlie Palmieri, and Willie Bobo heard here. The Complete 78s, Vols. 1-2: 1949-1955 is a treasure trove for Latin fans. © John Bush /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | Concord Records

For this particular Tito Puente recording, his exciting three-horn, three-percussion Latin jazz octet (which includes longtime saxophone soloist Mario Rivera) is joined by alto great Phil Woods on three of the eight selections, including Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica" and "Repetition." Such songs as "Corner Pocket," "Carioca" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" sound perfectly natural in this Afro-Cuban jazz setting, and Puente (well featured on vibes and timbales) is responsible for two originals and seven of the nine arrangements. The music is danceable, adventurous and quite fun. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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World - Released January 1, 1962 | Fania

They'd been calling him "El Rey" for years, but Tito Puente really proved it on this, one of his best original LPs on Tico. Yes, this is the one with "Oye Como Va," one of the brightest, most exuberant Latin performances of the century, but El Rey Bravo has plenty of other features for Puente's tight pachanga orchestra. "Tokyo de Noche" has great ensemble playing, as well as nice features for flute and violin, while "Tombola" (recorded the same year by the Puerto Rican All Stars) is a nice ballroom tune. © John Bush /TiVo
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Salsa - Released August 20, 2002 | BMG U.S. Latin - Heritage

Tito Puente was never one for half measures, and even in death there's no modesty involved, as the label calls him King of Kings. It might be an exaggeration, but only a slight one, and it gets the attention. Still, as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and there's a hearty meal here, albeit one missing one or two choice dishes, like Puente's original version of "Oye Como Va," a song that indirectly brought him a whole new audience. However, "Honk Kong Mambo" is here, "Dance Mania," and "Dance of the Headhunters," so it's hard to find too much fault with the disc's 21-track selection. While the man wasn't shy about having his timbales, or himself, front and center, he truly was a driving force in his music -- and, as this CD shows, he knew how to write more than his share of good tunes, too. Some of it has a slight novelty aspect, like "3 D Mambo," and he definitely worked the whole mambo craze of the '50s for all it was worth. Still, he did have more strings to his bow, as tracks like "Saca Tu Mujer" prove, and he was a world-class percussionist, and an able bandleader, with a flair for popular jazz. He worked hard -- exceptionally hard -- and deserved his success. This collection might not be the ultimate Puente compilation -- that's yet to be put together -- but it's still worth it for the wealth of dance music inside. © Chris Nickson /TiVo
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Salsa - Released August 13, 1991 | RCA Records Label

Dance Mania, Tito Puente's best-known and best-selling album, came ten years into his career, but at a time (1957) when the craze for mambo and Latin music was beginning to crest. (Another landmark LP, Pérez Prado's Havana 3 A.M., had been released the previous year, and Prado's "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" had hit number one in 1955.) Recorded as part of a just-signed exclusive contract with RCA and appearing in vibrant sound as part of the label's Living Stereo series, Dance Mania exploded with a series of tight arrangements, propulsive playing, and the features of new additions in vocalist Santos Colón and conguero Ray Barretto (who helped, in part, make up for the recent loss of Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria to Cal Tjader's group). Puente didn't dilute his sound for Dance Mania -- unlike the many commercial crossover LPs that were released by both established groups and ad hoc studio collectives -- but his hard mambos here were performed at tempos that encouraged dancing by more staid LP-buyers, slightly slower than the high paces of his Tico sides or Palladium shows. Brassy and swinging, yes, and certainly as precise as a great Latin band could get, but not as torrid as Spanish Harlem dancers would be accustomed to. Most were Puente originals, spanning mambo and cha-cha and guaguanco, and Dance Mania built the foundation for great Latin LPs to come. © John Bush /TiVo
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World - Released February 17, 2017 | UMLE - Machete

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World - Released December 31, 1985 | Fania

Beny More -- "El Barbaro del Ritmo" -- was one of the great Cuban singers of the 1950s. Puente is joined by Celia Cruz (on a large number of cuts), Hector Lavoe, El Conde and various other New York salseros in a set that simply has to be a winner, given the participants and More's compositional chops. © John Storm Roberts, Original Music /TiVo
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World - Released January 1, 1999 | Universal Music Mexico

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 /TiVo
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World - Released June 23, 1992 | RCA Records Label

A stunner from Puente's golden age, this 1957 recording brought together Tito, Mongo, Willie Bobo, Aguabella, and Julito Collazo on percussion with vocalists that included Mercedita Valdez, in seven wonderful cuts of traditional and (then) contemporary Afro-Cuban skin-on-skin. Then as an unexpected gift, there is a seven-minute Latin-jazz suite featuring Puente's considerable jazz-arranger head and a powerful band with Doc Severinson on lead trumpet. © John Storm Roberts /TiVo
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World - Released December 31, 1972 | Fania

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World - Released October 29, 2012 | Sony Music Latin

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World - Released June 18, 2013 | Fania

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Jazz - Released May 1, 1985 | Concord Picante

Although he was never inactive, the 1980s found Tito Puente in a bit of a renaissance. His exciting Afro-Cuban jazz band had found a home on the Concord Picante label, and his music was increasing in popularity again. This particular CD has a stronger than usual repertoire, including "Take Five," "Lush Life" (done as Latin jazz), "Pick Yourself Up" and "Lullaby of Birdland"; the latter song has its composer George Shearing guesting on piano. Puente wrote half of the arrangements, contributed some excellent playing on timbales and vibes, and is heard heading a spirited three-horn, three-percussion octet. Very enjoyable music. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Concord Records

The Best of the Concord Years collects 24 tracks over two discs from the final portion of Latin band leader and percussionist Tito Puente's career, which spanned six decades. During that time, Puente never strayed far from his jazz roots, as demonstrated by the inclusion of compositions by John Coltrane, Horace Silver, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, George Shearing, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Paul Desmond, and Charles Mingus. Considering Puente's substantial output on Concord Picante, some of this material may have slipped through the cracks the first time around. The Best of the Concord Years provides another chance to hear several fiery Afro-Cuban jazz performances, proving that "The King of Latin Music" refused to slow down, even after it was expected of him. © Al Campbell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1990 | Concord Picante

This Concord CD was Tito Puente's 99th as a leader and the music is particularly strong. Four jazz standards alternate with a quartet of Puente's originals and Chucho Valdes' "Cha Cha Cha," all of which are potentially good vehicles for jazz improvisations (although "Ode" and "Lambada" are dominated by group vocals). There are plenty of fine solos throughout by the five horn players and the three or four-piece percussion section keeps the rhythms infectious. In the world of Latin-jazz, Tito Puente has had few peers. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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World - Released September 30, 1997 | Concord Picante

Given Tito Puente's staggeringly prolific output of recordings, obviously no single disc can sum it up, so Concord Picante sensibly calls this compendium a "dance" collection. With the aim to keep the mambos, guajiras and cha chas moving and grooving foremost in mind, there is still a great deal of variety in this CD -- powerhouse big-band sounds, classic eight-piece salsa ensembles, lots of burning jazz solos from such firebrands as sax veteran Mario Rivera, and even a touch of the Orient on "Chang." In a bit of a surprise, there are several welcome featured marimba solos for Puente, along with his standard timbales explosions and animated vibraphone spots. Though Puente has a fairly deep backlog of Picante material from which to choose, the live 1984 El Rey album receives far more attention than its cousins -- four uninterrupted cuts close the album. But the concentration is worth the space, for we hear one of his hottest versions of "Oye Como Va," as well as other potent examples of how Puente could and still can fire up an audience. The whole package is a testament to Puente's apparently unquenchable vitality in what would be anyone else's dotage. You can definitely dance to this. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo