Master timbalero Ernesto Puente was a legendary figure in 20th century Latin music. for decades he performed with the biggest and most influential names in Latin jazz, mambo and salsa. His career followed the evolution of Latin music, from the big band orchestras to smaller combos.
Josephine Powell painstakingly researched Puente’s career and has written a fascinating book titled Tito Puente: When the Drums Are Dreaming. Powell begins the book with a chapter dedicated to Spanish Harlem, the famous neighborhood in New York City that is populated by families from the Spanish speaking Caribbean and other regions. Puerto Rican immigration was a key factor in the development of Latin music in New York.
Ernesto "Tito" Puente grew up in the thriving community in Harlem. Powell follows young Tito from his teen years. Even though he was fascinated by big bands, his life changed when he heard Cuban recordings by Orquesta Casino de la playa and its charismatic vocalist Miguelito Valdés.
Something to be grateful for is that Powell also provides biographical information about some key figures who influenced or interacted with Tito Puente. Miguelito Valdés is one of them.
Tito Puente fell love with Cuban music and he practiced hard on the timbales. When World War II broke, he was drafted into the U.S. Navy. There is a chapter that focuses on his military experience.
Upon his return to the United States, after the war, his musical career continued. Throughout the following decades he performed with some of the biggest names in Latin music and participated in several movies.
Josephine Powell does an excellent job at illustrating the life of the legendary percussionist.
Buy the book:
- In North America: Tito Puente: When the Drums Are Dreaming.
- In Europe: Tito Puente (hardcover), Tito Puente (paperback)
Other Tito Puente books: