Tito Puente Festival
at LatinJazzClub Magazine
Remembering Tito Puente
Memo Acevedo (Toronto, Canada)
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
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!
Norberto Rivera (San Juan, Puerto
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.
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,
Weinstein, Richie Gajate, Michael Bongard, Jesse
Memo Acevedo, Norberto Rivera, Richard John Cadena, Trevor
Salloum, Rae Arroyo,
Holston, Thomas Peña,
Yosvany Terry Cabrera, Tomas
TITO PUENTE MUSIC
This interview was edited
Photo by Jorge Garcia from
the album: Tito Puente Mambo Birdland