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Tito Puente Festival
at LatinJazzClub Magazine

Remembering Tito Puente

 

Memo Acevedo (Toronto, Canada)
(Drummer/percussionist. Composer/arranger, Band leader, Author /Educator) Specialist in Afro-Cuban, Colombian and Brazilian drumming.

For me Tito Puente was the personalization of what latin music is all about:"Passion". The gift that he was given was something he knew how to share with everyone and he did. Personally I had the pleasure of meeting Tito in December of 1977 at El Corso . He was very generous lending me his ears as I was telling him that in June of that year I had introduced Salsa in Toronto (where I used to live at the time) and that he was my inspiration for doing so. Since then we established a friendship that lasted until his passing. Tito became a mentor and a counselor to me, always ready to answer my questions and giving me advice; generously accepting my invitations to perform with my band.

After a few years of hard work and a few visits to perform with my band we had the pleasure of together writing history in Toronto with the1991 concert at the legendary Massey Hall entitled "Latin Spectacular." That was the first concert of Latin jazz in a major venue in that city. We performed together with Dave Valentin and Gonzalo Rubalcaba as special guests plus Johnny Pacheco y su Tumbao . We packed the place and the music was finally established in Toronto to the point that it has a life of its own today.

Tito was also the reason I wrote the tune "Building Bridges" (as Puente means bridge) and he kindly agreed to be a guest on my CD. The king of Latin Music was a very humble man. I remember one of the times that I brought him to Toronto together with Jimmy Frisaura and set him in a 5 star hotel. He said to my surprise: "Memo, what are you doing? I rather stay in your home with you and your family".

One more thing I must mention, that we can all learn from: I never heard Tito talk bad about anyone or put down his competition. He was a Builder and a Bridge . Long live the king!

Gracias Tito!

Norberto Rivera (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Radio host: Jazz Latino Con Norberto
WIPR 940 AM Corporacion de Puerto Rico Para La Difusion Publica

I really enjoy the complicated simplicity of Tito Puente's Music: "Oye como va mi ritmo, mulata." I met Tito Puente once in New Haven, Connecticut. I had a Latin Jazz show for WPKN 89.5 FM in Bridgeport, Connecticut and with my tape recorder on hand, I wanted to interview him for my show. I patiently waited for the showman at not avail. I went to my seat to enjoy the show and saw him playing and enjoying the music and talking with audience.

I had taken with me a cd called "El Rey del Timbal" to see if he can autograph for me. When it was time to go home, I was called to talk to him. I could not believe I was right there about to talk to the legend itself. Get's what? I couldn't talk. Nevertheless, he new what I wanted. He asked me to turn on the tape recorder. Asked me the radio station name and frequency. Did a spot for me. Grabbed the CD from my hand, signed and returned to me. Shaked my hand and say good bye. Tito, I wanted to say "thank you" but I couldn't. I knew you understand. I really enjoyed my first and last time I saw the King performing live.

READ MORE:

Noted musicians, Jazz Journalists, radio hosts reflect on the life and times of the "King of Latin Music" Tito Puente: Larry Harlow, Sonny Bravo, Jose Madera, John Santos, Arturo O'Farrill, Howard Mandel, Victor Mendoza, JC Johnny Conga, Ruben Rodriguez, Rudy Mangual, Ralph Irizarry, Mark Levine, Erik Chico Manqueros, Vicki Sola', Cuban Pete & Barbara Craddock, Chembo Corniel, Luis Moreno, Bob DeSena, Ramiro Burr, Dr. Jazz, Kevin Espinosa, Nina Olson, Andrea Brachfeld, Mark Weinstein, Richie Gajate, Michael Bongard, Jesse "Chuy" Varela, Memo Acevedo, Norberto Rivera, Richard John Cadena, Trevor Salloum, Rae Arroyo, Mark Holston, Thomas Peña, Yosvany Terry Cabrera, Tomas Algarin

BUY TITO PUENTE MUSIC

This interview was edited by
Bobby Ramirez
br@latinjazzclub.com

Photo by Jorge Garcia from the album: Tito Puente Mambo Birdland

© 2003
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