May 21, 2023, 12:00:00 AM
TITO PUENTE CENTENNIAL
celebrating 100 YEARS of TITO PUENTE'S legacy
Puente was a percussionist, composer, singer-songwriter, recording artist, and bandleader whose career spanned five decades. Puente has been called "The King of Timbales" and "The King of Latin Music", having recorded some 118 albums and being credited on dozens more – more than any other timbales bandleader to date!
Puente was born on April 20, 1923, in Spanish Harlem, New York City, and died on June 1, 2000. He grew up surrounded by Puerto Rican, Cuban, and big band music, and displayed significant musical talent from an early age. He served in the Navy during World War II, playing the alto saxophone as leader of the ship's band, along with more than 10 other instruments. He continued his studies at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City after the war. He formed his own band, the Orquesta Tito Puente, in 1948 and quickly gained a reputation for his performances that got audiences on the dance floor. His hit parade began with "Ran Kan Kan," Puente's first professional recording.
He was considered a musical pioneer for his creativity and experimentation, and is widely recognized for popularizing Latin music in the US.
In 1969, he was given the key to New York City and the Harlem street where he grew up, E. 110th Street, was renamed Tito Puente Way. Puente was also deeply dedicated to creating opportunities for the Latino community. In 1979, he introduced a scholarship fund that supported promising young Latin percussionists for more than 20 years.
Performing alongside Puentes son Tito Puente Jr. will be Orestes Vilato, Endel Dueño, Frankie Figueroa, Frankie Morales, John "Dandy" Rodriguez, and Jose Madera this May 2023 at Lehman Center!