Puente, Tito(Ernesto Antonio Puente, Jr.) (tē`tō pwĕn`tā), 1923–2000, American musician, b. New York City. One of the premier composers and players of Latin music, he was a bandleader, pianist, and virtuoso percussionist. He began playing in the 1930s and performed in various bands while studying at Juilliard (1945–47). In 1947 he formed his own group, the Piccadilly Boys, which shortly afterward became the Tito Puente Orchestra. During the 1950s, Puente became renowned for his Big Band renditions, in person and on recordings, of such Latin dance-craze styles as the mambo and cha-cha; in the 1960s he also turned to pachenga music. Puente played in and led many other bands. Also beginning in the 1960s he collaborated with several jazz musicians and thereafter customarily worked in either a Latin or jazz style, or a combination of the two, becoming an important figure in salsasalsa
, American popular music developed largely in New York City during the 1970s; its name is derived from the Spanish word for hot sauce. It is a mixture of various elements: rhumba, mambo, chacha, and other Latin dance forms; Afro-Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and other
..... Click the link for more information. music. During his long career, Puente won five Grammys and recorded 118 albums.
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Puente, (Ernesto Antonio) Tito(1920– ) bandleader, percussionist, composer; born in New York City. Of Puerto Rican parentage, he served in World War II and then studied at Juilliard. In 1947 he formed what became the Tito Puente Orchestra and became a leader of the mambo and cha-cha-cha fads in the 1950s. From the 1960s to the 1980s he made over 40 albums, some fusing Latin with other musical styles and traditions. He left his big band in 1980 and moved into more jazzlike music with a smaller ensemble, performing at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1984. But he continued to be popular as North America's grand old man of Latin American music and appeared as himself in the movie, The Mambo Kings (1992).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.