Tito Puente, The Best of

It's redundant to call any Tito Puente collection 'the best of,' because every time the man picked up a drumstick or mallet, he gave the best he had to offer. The daunting and unenviable task of compiling the best among the dozens of tracks El Rey made for Concord was made easier by dividing this collection between Puente's more danceable pieces and his jazzier arrangements. Disc one's 12 tracks serve up the New York-Puerto Rican soul and Afro-Cuban rhythms--with mambos, merengues, cha chas, and rhythmic bursts hopping about. Puente's most famous composition, "Oye Como Va," appears in a rousing live version that justifies its status as one of National Public Radio's 100 most influential songs of the 20th century. Disc two showcases the strong soloists and arrangers that have always been jewels in Puente's musical crown. The amazing transformation that the legendary percussionist and his arrangers put on the most identifiable music is concentrated here as songs strongly associated with other artists, such as "On Broadway" (George Benson), "Take Five" (Dave Brubeck), and "Sun Goddess" (Ramsey Lewis) get elevated by Puente's Latin-fire, signature handprints. This is an essential disc for any serious collector of Latin jazz.

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  • H. Keith Renty
    published this page in Jazz Corner 2015-11-09 11:33:59 -0800

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