Fri. Dec 1st, 2023

An enormous of Latin music, Tito Puente’s storied multi-decade profession as a bandleader and percussionist yielded a plethora of important compositions and recordings. But satirically by far his best-known particular person track, “Oye Como Va,” was initially one thing of a throwaway. Tucked away on Puente’s 1962 LP, El Rey Bravo, the tune owed a substantial inventive debt to its apparent inspiration, “Chanchullo,” an Israel “Cachao” Lopez-penned cha-cha that Tito recorded for RCA in 1959. Intently modeling the block piano chords and flute-led association for “Chanchullo,” “Oye Como Va” did its forerunner even higher by including an irresistible chorus (sung in choral tandem with vocalists Santos Colon and Rudy Calzado) very best for seducing dancers and exalting Puente’s percussive charms: “Oye como va, mi ritmo/ Bueno pa gozar…” (“Hear the way it goes, my rhythm/ It’s good to get pleasure from…”).

Order Tito Puente’s El Rey Bravo now.

That’s about so far as this playful album observe may need gone had Carlos Santana not sought out one other Latin jazz tune for his eponymous rock outfit to cowl as a follow-up to their 1969 remake of Willie Bobo’s “Evil Methods.” A world smash, Santana’s amplified tackle “Oye Como Va” (prompted by Carlos’s supervisor, legendary live performance promoter Invoice Graham) put some much-deserved retroactive respect on Puente’s authentic, revealing to the lots what was evident to Tito’s longtime listeners all alongside: in his greatest years even El Rey’s filler may very well be phenomenal. Although now famend for its fluke hit, El Rey Bravo fantastically captures the joy of Tito and his orchestra throughout their prolonged heyday.

Recorded on the Lodge Riverside Plaza Ballroom – a Manhattan venue with robust acoustics apparently favored by Tico’s infamous guardian label, Roulette Information – the album conveys a “stay” dynamism exemplified by “Oye Como Va’s” shock false ending and raucous in-studio chatter, a veritable get together on report. Festive spirits are prevalent on the hi-speed mambos that dominate all through. “Malanga Con Yuca” units the tone and template with frenetic ensemble interaction between Tito’s timbales, Gilberto Lopez’s storming piano, Johnny Pacheco’s chirping flute, Felix “Pupi” Legaretta’s nimble violin, and a strong brass part that includes trombonist Barry Rogers. A scorching “Traigo El Coco Seco,” and the self-descriptive “Tito Suene El Timbal” are each borderline manic. “Tombola” is extra literal in its good vibes, showcasing Tito’s skills on vibraphone. Transporting issues additional afield, “Tokyo De Noche” provides a tasteful contact of “oriental” exotica harking back to previous Puente excursions like “Hong Kong Mambo” (reflections of Tito’s reputed Far East fixation), whereas “Africa Habla” joyously explores the roots of Tito’s beloved Afro-Cuban musical heritage.

Given the prolific recording schedule necessitated by music trade practices on the time, these recordings have been something however valuable. “It was slightly bit hectic once we have been recording tunes at first sight,” pianist Lopez recalled to journalist Andrew Mason, “as a result of we needed to report it in as least takes as attainable. There was all the time hollering about studio time. If it wasn’t the producer, it’d be Tito saying, ‘I’m not paying additional time!’” All of which makes El Rey Bravo’s musical riches extra worthy.

Order Tito Puente’s El Rey Bravo now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *