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mikeweil

Tito Puente in the 1940' and 1950's

79 posts in this topic

The November 28, 1955 and January 9, 1956 sessions

One of the reasons for Puente signing with RCA may have been that he saw greater potential for recording projects intended for the new 12" LP format - George Goldner at Tico was mainly interested in good selling singles and had to be talked into issuing the "Puente In Percussion" album. But Puente's recordings for RCA obviously started with another four track session intended for single release. It took place on November 28, 1955, say the recording dates in the Complete RCA box sets.

- Port Tu Amor (Everlasting Love) (Luis Varona) / Vibe Cha-Cha  (Puente) - RCA Victor ‎– 47-6370

- Cuban Nightmare (Puente)  / Four Beat Cha-Cha - RCA Victor ‎– 47-6527

One or the other of these tracks popped up on compilations issued many years later; the first two were added to the Spanish CD reissue of the Mambo On Broadway LP; all four were on the two Complete RCA box sets (two in each of them). I do not have personnel listings, although they should exist in the RCA vaults. Musically, they continue the style of Puente's Tico singles. 

The Complete RCA Vol. 1 has two tracks recorded on January 9, 1956, so far I could not find a single release. The first pops up on a few compilations.

- Mambozooka (Puente)

- Mama Inez (Moises Simón)

 

Edited by mikeweil

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Cuban Carnival (1956)

R-4140296-1547603988-9622.jpeg.jpg

Tito Puente's first RCA project conceived for LP was Cuban Carnival. The title is a program and a personal confession, as Puente had chosen Cuban music as his working ground, even though he was born in New York in a Puerto Rican family. His personal style fusing high level jazz arrangement techniques with Cuban rhythm is in full bloom, with screaming brass and hot percussion. This album was respoinsible for Puente's participation in a late 1956 music festival Cuba featuring musicians working in the USA at the time - Puente was astonished that he was not called and told some of his Cuban colleagues who wondered waht had happened and contacted the Cuban organisation responsible. They sent them a copy of this album, which obviously convinced them. The full story can be read in Powell's book. 

The album also shows Puente's increasing fascination with Afro-Cuban religion, demonstrated by the opening track, dedicated to the important Cuban orishás, Eleguá and Changó. It was the first track he recorded for RCA that passed the three minute mark of his recordings for singles. (For Tico, only the Puente In Percussion LP featured tracks longer than three minutes.)

So far I do not have exact recording dates for all tracks. The ones marked * were recorded on April 3, 1956. A note on the CD reissue says "recorded in New York City, 1955 & 1956" - at the moment I cannot confirm any tracks having been recorded in 1955.

Personnel:

Tito Puente (timbales, vibes) 

Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, Carlos "Patato" Valdez, Cándido Camero, John Rodriguez (Cuban percussion)

Alvin Gellers (piano)

Bobby Rodriquez (bass)

El Viejo Macucho (vocals on # 10; other vocalists/chorus not identified)

Nick Travis, Frank Lo Pinto, Jimmy Frisaura, Gene Rapeti, Bernie Glow, Andres "Merenguito" Forda, Sam Seavors (trumpets)

Santo Ruso, Eddie Bert, Robert Ascher, Sam Takvorian (trombones)

Jerry Sanfino, Marty Holmes, Ed Caine, Sol Schlinger, Allen Fiedls, José Madera, Dave Kurtzer (saxes & flutes)

This is a collective listing, obviously. The regular Puente band has been enlarged (he had no trombones and only 3 trumpets and four saxes in his touring band, Gellers, Rodriguez, Mongo, and Bobo were the rhythm section; plus singers). 

Tracks:

1. Eleguá Changó (Puente) *

2. Cuál Es La Idea (Puente) *

3. Pa' Los Rumberos (Puente) *

4. Que Será (Puente) 

5. Oye Mi Guaguancó (Puente) 

6. Yambeque (Puente) *

7. Happy Cha-Cha-Chá (Puente)

8. Mambo Buda (Puente)

9. Cha-Cha-Chá De Los Pollos (Ray Coen)

10. Guaguancó Margarito (Silvestre Mendez) *

11. Cuban Fantasy (Ray Bryant)

The 1990 CD reissue in the Tropical Series does not credit a mastering engineer. I compared it to the tracks on the first Complete RCA box set from 2000, which sound louder, a lttle harsher. Maybe they used the digital master from 1990 and tried to "improve" on it - two sudden image shifts of the original mono recording are identical on both issues. Puente's RCA recordings always sound extreme due to the shouting brass, but the 1990 CD is a bit easier on the ear.

R-3703022-1474619134-6369.jpeg.jpg

This CD would have been the opportunity to add the late 1955 / early 1956 tracks tracks never released on LP (or only on compilations), but they missed it. 

Edited by mikeweil

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1 hour ago, mikeweil said:

Cuban Carnival (1956)

R-4140296-1547603988-9622.jpeg.jpg

Tito Puente's first RCA project conceived for LP was Cuban Carnival. The title is a program and a personal confession, as Puente had chosen Cuban music as his working ground, even though he was born in New York in a Puerto Rican family. His personal style fusing high level jazz arrangement techniques with Cuban rhythm is in full bloom, with screaming brass and hot percussion. This album was respoinsible for Puente's participation in a late 1956 music festival Cuba featuring musicians working in the USA at the time - Puente was astonished that he was not called and told some of his Cuban colleagues who wondered waht had happened and contacted the Cuban organisation responsible. They sent them a copy of this album, which obviously convinced them. The full story can be read in Powell's book. 

The album also shows Puente's increasing fascination with Afro-Cuban religion, demonstrated by the opening track, dedicated to the important Cuban orishás, Eleguá and Changó. It was the first track he recorded for RCA that passed the three minute mark of his recordings for singles. (For Tico, only the Puente In Percussion LP featured tracks longer than three minutes.)

So far I do not have exact recording dates for all tracks. The ones marked * were recorded on April 3, 1956. A note on the CD reissue says "recorded in New York City, 1955 & 1956" - at the moment I cannot confirm any tracks having been recorded in 1955.

Personnel:

Tito Puente (timbales, vibes) 

Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, Carlos "Patato" Valdez, Cándido Camero, John Rodriguez (Cuban percussion)

Alvin Gellers (piano)

Bobby Rodriquez (bass)

El Viejo Macucho (vocals on # 10; other vocalists/chorus not identified)

Nick Travis, Frank Lo Pinto, Jimmy Frisaura, Gene Rapeti, Bernie Glow, Andres "Merenguito" Forda, Sam Seavors (trumpets)

Santo Ruso, Eddie Bert, Robert Ascher, Sam Takvorian (trombones)

Jerry Sanfino, Marty Holmes, Ed Caine, Sol Schlinger, Allen Fiedls, José Madera, Dave Kurtzer (saxes & flutes)

This is a collective listing, obviously. The regular Puente band has been enlarged (he had no trombones and only 3 trumpets and four saxes in his touring band, Gellers, Rodriguez, Mongo, and Bobo were the rhythm section; plus singers). 

Tracks:

1. Eleguá Changó (Puente) *

2. Cuál Es La Idea (Puente) *

3. Pa' Los Rumberos (Puente) *

4. Que Será (Puente) 

5. Oye Mi Guaguancó (Puente) 

6. Yambeque (Puente) *

7. Happy Cha-Cha-Chá (Puente)

8. Mambo Buda (Puente)

9. Cha-Cha-Chá De Los Pollos (Ray Coen)

10. Guaguancó Margarito (Silvestre Mendez) *

11. Cuban Fantasy (Ray Bryant)

The 1990 CD reissue in the Tropical Series does not credit a mastering engineer. I compared it to the tracks on the first Complete RCA box set from 2000, which sound louder, a lttle harsher. They could have used the digital master from 1990 and tried to "improve" on it - two sudden image shifts of the original mono recording are identical on both issues. Puente's RCA recordings always sound extreme due to the shouting brass, but the 1990 CD is a bit easier on the ear.

R-3703022-1474619134-6369.jpeg.jpg

"Mambo Buda" and "Elegua Chango" are exotica essentials.

Love that version of "Cuban Fantasy" also.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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5 hours ago, mikeweil said:

-  Port Tu Amor (Everlasting Love) (Luis Varona) / Vibe Cha-Cha  (Puente) - RCA Victor ‎– 47-6370

I adore these two tracks. I think I first had them on the "Mambo on Broadway" LP. They remind me of when my wife and I first got together and would mix rum cocktails in the summer while blasting Latin Jazz and exotica. 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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I have never understood the RCA, Tico, and Roulette chronology. It seems like there was overlap, or that he went back and forth. 

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On 4/27/2020 at 5:42 PM, mikeweil said:

Eight of the 27 tracks were reissued on a 10" LP titled Mambo On Broadway

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It was expanded to 10 tracks for a 12" LP, which was reissued on CD by BMG in Spain with 12 tracks.

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There was also a 12" LP with 12 tracks in the US. It must have dated from the 1950s or early 60s. It was mono with the black label with Little Nipper. 

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2 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

There was also a 12" LP with 12 tracks in the US. It must have dated from the 1950s or early 60s. It was mono with the black label with Little Nipper. 

That must be this one:

R-10686681-1502392000-4532.jpeg.jpg

Contents are identical to the Spanish CD I have. https://www.discogs.com/Tito-Puente-And-His-Orchestra-Mambo-On-Broadway/release/10686681

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On 7.5.2020 at 9:11 PM, Teasing the Korean said:

I have never understood the RCA, Tico, and Roulette chronology. It seems like there was overlap, or that he went back and forth. 

Once more: Tito was under contract with Tico from 1949 to 1955. A total of 156 tracks were released on 78 rpm records, plus one 12" LP, Puente in Percussion. LP compilations of the 78s were released on the Tico label from 1952 (the first 10" LP). Since Tico was bought by Roulette some reissues may bear the Roulette label. AFAIK the only LP recorded for Roulette was Bossa Nova By Puente in 1962.

I have said Puente was allowed to record for other labels during his tenure at Tico. This resulted in the 27 tracks recorded from 1949-1951 for RCA and the LP for Seeco.

He was under contract with RCA from late 1955 to 1960, which resulted in the LPs I listed in an earlier post. In between there was the Mambo on Broadway LP with some of the earlier tracks. 

You must differentiate between recording dates and release dates. But that is not easy as the old LP never stated recording dates. 

The years after 1960 are more complicated. Short term contracts, (Tico again among them, by then owned by Roulette) - except for the very end with Concord, 1982 until his death in 2000, with some posthumous releases. 

Edited by mikeweil

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4 minutes ago, mikeweil said:

Once more: Tito was under contract with Tico from 1949 to 1955. A total of 156 tracks were released on 78 rpm records, plus one 12" LP, Puente in Percussion. LP compilations of the 78s were released on the Tico label from 1952 (the first 10" LP). Since Tico was bought by Roulette some reissues may bear the Roulette label. AFAIK the only LP recorded for Roulette was Bossa Nova By Puente in 1962.

I have said Puente was allowed to record for other labels during his tenure at Tico. This resulted in the 27 tracks recorded from 1949-1951 for RCA and the LP for Seeco.

He was under contract with RCA from late 1955 to 1960, which resulted in the LPs I listed in an earlier post. In between there was the Mambo on Broadway LP with some of the earlier tracks. 

You must differentiate between recording dates and release dates. But that is not easy as the old LP never stated recording dates. 

The years after 1960 are more complicated. Short term contracts, except for the very end with Concord, 1982 until his death, with some posthumous releases. 

Thanks, I missed that detail the first time. 

Another on Roulette is "My Fair Lady." It is stereo. I'm guessing that it dates from 1963 or so, in anticipation of the film.

Did he go back to Tico? I have a "Live in Puerto Rico" LP on Tico. It is stereo, and the style of the jacket would suggest early 60s. I guess if Roulette owned Tico, they could do what they wanted with him. "My Fair Lady" may have come out on Roulette for crossover appeal.

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On 5/4/2020 at 7:17 PM, Teasing the Korean said:

Thanks. In the US, a lot of those 1980s CDs of RCA 1950s albums were mastered by a guy named Dick Baxter. They have a very harsh, brittle, and artificial sound. I fear that a lot of his masterings were picked up for later reissues. 

Also, I am curious to know if the box sets include mastering credits, and if Dick Baxter's  name surfaces anyplace in general. 

I bought the first of those RCA boxed sets.  I was really disappointed by the seemingly random presentation of the music and the rather cheap looking packaging.  I liked the music, but I felt Mr. Puente and this historic yet still vital material deserved better.  It dissuaded me from buying Vol. 2, but now I kind of wish I had bought it back then.  Copies are usually pretty pricey these days,

The booklet for Vol. 1 lists Jorge Garcia & Giraldo Ramirez at Miami Tape Inc. for the mastering.  Dick Baxter is mentioned in the "Special Thanks" list.

Edited by duaneiac

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50 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Did he go back to Tico? I have a "Live in Puerto Rico" LP on Tico. It is stereo, and the style of the jacket would suggest early 60s. I guess if Roulette owned Tico, they could do what they wanted with him. "My Fair Lady" may have come out on Roulette for crossover appeal.

Not unrealistic to imagine a successful bandleader with a pretty serious (or so it's been said) cocaine hobby not quibbling too much with Morris Levy.

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11 minutes ago, duaneiac said:

I bought the first of those RCA boxed sets.  I was really disappointed by the seemingly random presentation of the music and the rather cheap looking packaging.  I liked the music, but I felt Mr. Puente and this historic yet still vital material deserved better.  It dissuaded me from buying Vol. 2, but now I kind of wish I had bought it back then.  Copies are usually pretty pricey these days,

The booklet for Vol. 1 lists Jorge Garcia & Giraldo Ramirez at Miami Tape Inc. for the mastering.  Dick Baxter is mentioned in the "Special Thanks" list.

Thanks. Back in the days of arguments about digital vs. analog, I didn't think I could really tell the difference all that much. It wasn't until I A/B'd a few Dick Baxter CDs with the original LPS that I learned how truly awful digital could sound. 

10 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Not unrealistic to imagine a successful bandleader with a pretty serious (or so it's been said) cocaine hobby not quibbling too much with Morris Levy.

I guess functionally there was no difference. You just didn't know what label you would see spinning around when the record was finished. 

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Yeah, all you know is that you got paid a little extra that day.

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Puente Goes Jazz (1956) RCA Victor LPM 1312

R-7195439-1435875515-9418.jpeg.jpg

Personnel: (the album credits list only the featured soloists; I have added a regular band member probably participating)

Trumpets: Nick Travis, Bernie Glow, prob. Jimmy Frisaura

Saxes: Gene Quill, Marty Holmes

Piano: Alvin Gellers - Guitar: Barry Galbraith - Bass: Bobby Rodriguez

Timbales, Vibes: Tito Puente - Congas: Mongo Santamaria - Bongos, Timbales: Willie Bobo

Tracks: (those marked * were recorded February 6, 1956)

1. What Is This Thing Called Love (Cole Porter

2. Tiny - Not Genghis (Ted Sommer)

3. What Are You Doin' Honey (Marty Holmes)

4. * Lotus Land (Cyril Scott)

5. * Lucky Dog (Puente)

6. Birdland After Dark (Oscar Pettiford)

7. That's A Puente (Ted Sommer)

8. Yesterdays (Jerome Kern)

9. Terry Cloth (Ted Sommer)

10. * Tito 'In (A.K. Salim)

This was reissued on CD several times by RCA ( NL/CD 74719) in Spain, under the Bluebird imprint (66148-2), on BMG Classics in Europe ( 74321653692 ), but not in the Tropical Series (too jazzy?):

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R-10811051-1522153958-2621.jpeg.jpg

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They misspelled the name of the Mongolian emperor on all issues, Genghis is correct, not Ghengis!

 

There were two tracks recorded on February 5, 1956, the second of which appeared on the Night Beat album:

Havana After Dark (Chico O'Farrill)

Flying Down To Rio (T.B. Harms)

---------------------------------------------------------

I just compared the sound of the Spanish CD (no mastering cerdits) with the box set: the latter again has a higher level, but some detauis seem to get overpowered by the sheer loudness. This was a mono recording - some latter day engineers seem to have a hard time having to live with this.

Edited by mikeweil

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10 minutes ago, mikeweil said:

Puente Goes Jazz (1956) RCA Victor LPM 1312

R-7195439-1435875515-9418.jpeg.jpg

Personnel: (the album credits list only the featured soloists; I have added a regular band member probably participating)

Trumpets: Nick Travis, Bernie Glow, prob. Jimmy Frisaura

Saxes: Gene Quill, Marty Holmes

Piano: Alvin Gellers - Guitar: Barry Galbraith - Bass: Bobby Rodriguez

Timbales, Vibes: Tito Puente - Congas: Mongo Santamaria - Bongos, Timbales: Willie Bobo

Tracks: (those marked * were recorded February 6, 1956)

1. What Is This Thing Called Love (Cole Porter

2. Tiny - Not Genghis (Ted Sommer)

3. What Are You Doin' Honey (Marty Holmes)

4. * Lotus Land (Cyril Scott)

5. * Lucky Dog (Puente)

6. Birdland After Dark (Oscar Pettiford)

7. That's A Puente (Ted Sommer)

8. Yesterdays (Jerome Kern)

9. Terry Cloth (Ted Sommer)

10. * Tito 'In (A.K. Salim)

This was reissued on CD several times by RCA ( NL/CD 74719) in Spain, under the Bluebird imprint (66148-2), on BMG Classics in Europe ( 74321653692 ), but not in the Tropical Series (too jazzy?):

R-1755454-1241278760.jpeg.jpg

R-10811051-1522153958-2621.jpeg.jpg

R-6320877-1416408323-5964.jpeg.jpg

They misspelled the name of the Mongolian emperor on all issues, Genghis is correct, not Ghengis!

 

There were two tracks recorded on February 5, 1956, the second of which appeared on the Night Beat album:

Havana After Dark (Chico O'Farrill)

Flying Down To Rio (T.B. Harms)

The arrangement of "Lotus Land" is stunning. It is an exotica essential!

 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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Let's Cha Cha with Tito Puente and His Orchestra (1957) RCA Victor LP 1392

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The title says it all. Puente reacted to the growing popularity of the Cha-Cha-Cha, a rather new Cuban dance invented by Enrique Jorrín, that was not as difficult to learn as the mambo. The abbreviation in the title, "Cha-Cha", is common but should be avoided, as it is the term for a child's butt in Cuban slang .......... 

The sound is excellent mono, and it retains its warmth and transparency in the 1994 CD remaster, done by ....... Dick Baxter. That CD adds a bonus track to the 12 of the LP. This is one of the best sounding mono Cuban band recordings I have heard. It may have to do with the fact that there is less brass and more charanga instrumentation with flutes.

R-9617965-1522342160-2614.jpeg.jpg

Personnel: * marks soloists)

Tito Puente* (timbales, vibes, arranger) - Mongo Santamaria* (congas) - Willie Bobo (bongos, guiro, timbales) - Bobby Rodriguez (bass) - Alvin Gellers* (piano) - Al Casamenti (guitar)

Trumpets: Bernie Glow (1,5,6) or Al de Risi (all others), Jimmy Frisaura, Frank Lo Pinto, Gene Rapetti

Saxes & Flutes: Jerry Sanfino* (alto & flute), Allen Fields (alto), Marty Holmes, Eddie Caine (1,5,6,7,10,12,13), Ray Beckenstein (2,3,4,8,9,11) (tenor), Joe Grimm (baritone)

Vocal chrous: probably El Viejo Macucho, Yayo El Indio, Tito Puente

Tracks:

1 Lindo Cha Cha (Puente)

2 It's The Bururu (Dame El Bururu) (Obdulio Morales)

3 Vibe Guajira (Guajira En Vibrafono) (Puente)

4 Let's Cha Cha (Ray Coen)

5 Ki-Ku-Ki-Kan (Raul Azpiazú)

6 Habanero (Ray Coen)

7 Just For You (Johnny Conquet)

8 Cha Cha Fiesta Johnny Conquet)

9 Cha Charuguao (Justi Barreto)

10 You Are An Angel (Justi Barreto)

11 Guaririambo (Mongo Santamaria)

12 Cubarama (Puente)

13 Así Es Como Era (Malibú) (Puente) (bonus track not on LP)

Recorded August 23, 1956 (7,10,12) - August 24, 1956 (1,5,6,13) - August 25, 1956 (2,3,4,8,9,11)

------------------------------------------------------------

The Complete RCA Vol. 1 includes two Boleros with vocalist Hilda Nieves dated August 8, 1956 that probably were released as a single; they also popped up on a Tropical Series compilation "Si Me Comprendieras (Boleros Con Feeling Vol. 5)" (https://www.discogs.com/Various-Si-Me-Comprendieras-Boleros-Con-Feeling-Vol-5/release/9806216); they could have added these just as well.

1 Sin Amor (Puente)

2 No Me Obligues (Mario De Jesús)

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Night Beat (1957) RCA Victor LP 1447

This album was released in several format: besides the mono and stereo 12" LPs there was a release on three 45 rpm EPs. There were CD reissues not only in the RCA Tropical series but also on Koch Jazz, and a CD on Bear Family (that combined it with mucho puente). The latter is of special interest as it icludes two previously unissued tracks as well as one released only on a compilation; OTOH it omits two tracks for playing time limitations that were recorded already in 1956. To make things even more complicated, mono and stereo issues of the mucho puente albums are totally differed in content, the stereo issue combining half each of the mono Night Beat and mucho puente LP tracks (which is why Bear Family joined them in their reissue).

The Bear Family reissue has complete personnel for each session, has great new liner notes, and even states master numbers!

(details will be posted soon)

Edited by mikeweil

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Listening now to "Let's Cha Cha." Some of these tracks are harmonically more interesting than what you encounter on a typical cha cha album of the era. 

Favorite tracks include "Lindo Cha-Cha," "Vibe Guajira," "Habanero," "Cha Charugao," "You Are an Angel," and "Cubarama." 

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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"Night Beat" is excellent. My mono LP sounds better than the corresponding tracks sound on the "Mambo Beat" CD comp.

The money cut is "Night Ritual." 

"Malibu Beat" is total crime jazz. It could fit on Stanley Wilson's "M Squad" LP.

Similarly, "The Late, Late Scene" could fit on Warren Barker's "77 Sunset Strip" album.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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I have been spinning each album after Mike posts it. 

I would be interested I hearing Mike's opinion on the content of the albums we have discussed thus far, in particular, how well they hang together as albums.

I always felt like Puente is often going for a "Something for Everyone" approach with these albums - some vocals, some instrumentals, some stuff that is fairly simple harmonically, some tracks with some more jazzy harmonies, and maybe one Kentonian opus. 

Of the RCA albums that I have, which include most of those listed thus far, I often feel compelled to skip something or other to get to the money cuts. "Night Beat" is fairly stylistically consistent from my perspective. 

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On a gerneral note, and after finishing Powell's biography, I have the impression that Puente often wanted too much at a time. He suffered from the snobbishness of most Cubans towards Puerto Ricans and wanted to be better in all respects. He was a studied musician with great arranging skills taking jazz as his yardstick, which was perfect for what we call Latin Jazz, but perhaps overloaded the whole thing. It would be interesting to hear how his band sounded on a live gig in the 1950's, without the three minute time limitation of a 78 rpm record, which he seemingly internalized to a high degree; this may have been supported by his producers who wanted selling singles and radio play. For the dancing audience of later days his music was too sophisticated. Until his death he dreamed of some very ambitious projects with orchestras and all that never were done the way he really wanted. It was a question of financing projects, just as well. You get a good glance at his personality from Powells's book, she was very close to him. 

His music often is truly eciting, but never moves me as much as e.g. Mongo's band, who had more warmth and good spirits. Puente is like the Kenton of Latin Jazz. 

Right now I am waiting for a copy of the RCA box Vol. 2 to arrive which was shipped from Israel and might take a few weeks to arrive here. This will give me some more insight into the chronology of recordings dates, I hope. 

TTK, do you know of any live recordings of Puente before 1960?

Edited by mikeweil

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34 minutes ago, mikeweil said:

On a gerneral note, and after finishing Powell's biography, I have the impression that Puente often wanted too much at a time. He suffered from the snobbishness of most Cubans towards Puerto Ricans and wanted to be better in all respects. He was a studied musician with great arranging skills taking jazz as his yardstick, which was perfect for what we call Latin Jazz, but perhaps overloaded the whole thing. It would be interesting to hear how his band sounded on a live gig in the 1950's, without the three minute time limitation of a 78 rpm record, which he seemingly internalized to a high degree; this may have been supported by his producers who wanted selling singles and radio play. For the dancing audience of later days his music was too sophisticated. Until his death he dreamed of some very ambitious projects with orchestras and all that never were done the way he really wanted. It was a question of financing projects, just as well. You get a good glance at his personality from Powells's book, she was very close to him. 

His music often is truly eciting, but never moves me as much as e.g. Mongo's band, who had more warmth and good spirits. Puente is like the Kenton of Latin Jazz. 

Right now I am waiting for a copy of the RCA box Vol. 2 to arrive which was shipped from Israel and might take a few weeks to arrive here. This will give me some more insight into the chronology of recordings dates, I hope. 

TTK, do you know of any live recordings of Puente before 1960?

Mike, I do not know of any, but my Puente accumulation was driven more by what I encountered vs. what I sought out. I was lucky to live in or visit locations where 1950s Latin LPs were everywhere for 50 cents. Finding copies in good shape was the challenge. 

Considering how popular Latin music was in the US in the 1950s, particularly within American Jewish communities, how important were the Cuban/Puerto Rican distinstinctions among non-Latinos at the time?

Regarding the live gigs, perhaps they reflected the "Something for Everyone" approach that I pick up from the LPs? I'm guessing Puente was good at reading crowds. If he were playing Grossinger's, the goal I'm sure would have been to keep people on the dance floor. But he probably would have thrown in a couple of jazzier numbers for variety?

Regarding your comparison of Puente to Kenton, and his music not moving you on the same way as some of Puente's contemporaries, I will say this, as someone who owns lots of 50s Latin music: Puente at his best, for me, is up there with any of the Latin jazz greats of the era, but unfortunately, those moments are few and far between. It may be two tracks from this album and one track from another. Still, I can't imagine being without these records. 

By far, my favorite Puente album is "Tambo," from 1960. I hope you will extend your discography to at least include that one. 

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