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Salsa - Released May 21, 2009 | Sony Music Latin

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography

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

Jazz - Released January 1, 1985 | Concord Records

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

World - Released February 17, 2017 | UMLE - Machete


Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Concord Records

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

World - Released April 19, 2011 | Fania


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

World - Released February 8, 2019 | Universal Digital Enterprises


World - Released October 29, 2012 | Sony Music Latin


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

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

Salsa - Released July 15, 2001 | RCA Records Label

Latin jazz bandleader Tito Puente's early years on RCA are featured on The Complete RCA Recordings with 108 tracks recorded between 1949 and 1960, sequenced in chronological order over six discs. Several unavailable and alternate takes are included along with an informative, albeit short, 12-page booklet. With over 100 Puente recordings available, in a career spanning several decades, a package like this is a treat for the rabid completist or comes in handy for the novice listener trying to sort out various periods from the king of the mambo. © Al Campbell /TiVo

Salsa - Released June 11, 2015 | Makondo Entretenimiento


World - Released November 6, 1996 | Fania

Willie Colon and Tito Puente, two of the founding fathers of the New York salsa scene, are artistic titans who each made inestimable contributions to the world of Latin music. As impressive as they are on their own, their combined musical might is even more striking. Both men were always known as top-notch bandleaders, so it's no surprise to hear the precision with which they lead their cohorts (including conguero extraordinaire Willie Bobo) through the likes of Puente's "Ran Kan Kan" and Colon's "No Men Den Candela" on this 1993 release, with the former's propulsive timbales and the latter's fiery trombone leading the salsa charge. © TiVo

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

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

Salsa - Released October 10, 1990 | RCA Records Label

Recorded over three days in New York in 1956, Let's Cha Cha Cha is one of a multitude of early albums from Tito Puente & His Orchestra. In 1994, RCA remastered it among others as part of a Tropical Series. The album opens with a cha cha, then through a nice piece from Obdulio Morales and into a guajira on the vibes (Puente's much-less-known instrument, but an exciting performance). Another cha cha follows in the title track, followed itself by a light horn and flute romp with remnants of the Big Bad Wolf involved. A punchier work from Ray Coen comes in "Habenero" and Johnny Conquet's "Just for You" and "Cha Cha Fiesta" are both exemplar simple cha chas. A pair from Justi Barreto follow with a vocal aspect added in that gives them a bit more flavor, and a piece from Mongo Santamaria follows them up. The album finishes on a pair from Puente himself, with some slightly more complex horn arrangements. All in all, it's perhaps not as exciting as a lot of his later work, but it's a fine example of his full arranging abilities and the earlier, less percussion-based cha chas, mambos, and exotica that formed the basis for Puente's success. Fans of Puente should certainly give the album a shot, though newcomers might do better to start with a retrospective of some sort. © Adam Greenberg /TiVo

Latin - Released December 31, 1956 | Fania

The first and best of Tito Puente's percussion-heavy records, Puente in Percussion absolutely sizzles, thanks in part to its roster of drum legends: Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, Carlos "Patato" Valdes, and, of course, Puente himself (who appears on timbales, conga, and bongos). And even those who would normally stay away from such intense polyrhythmic music can still find a pair of masterpieces; bassist Bobby Rodriguez lends his groove to the quartet on a pair of highlights, "Four Beat Mambo" and "The Big Four." © John Bush /TiVo

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

World - Released December 31, 1972 | Fania