Guest Blogger: Joe Conzo is the author of Mambo Diablo: My Journey with Tito Puente.
Today would have been my good good friend Tito Puente’s 89th birthday. And do I miss him .
I’m glad I wrote the book Mambo Diablo: My Journey with Tito Puente because it helps me reflects on all the good and bad times that Tito and I shared. But Mambo Diablo also shows the musican side of Tito and how he became one greatest latin musicans, if not the greatest in the 20th century.
In Mambo Diablo, you learn things about Tito that were never told before. Many books have been written about Tito, but none like one I wrote. There’s a chapter in the book titled “A Meeting of the Masters.” This is a unique round table talk with some of the greatest musicans in latin music of the 20th century: musicans like Machito, Mario Bauza, Miguelito Vades (Mr. Babalu), Federico Pagani, Charlie Palmieri, and of course Tito Puente. This alone is reason to read Mambo Diablo.
Countless stories have been written about Tito Puente’s percussive musical abilities, but never before have his talent and intuition, as well as the mishaps and controversies surrounding him, been presented with such vivacity and love, chronicling the popular and combative King of Latin rhythm who climbed from El Barrio to international fame and recognition, influencing multiple generations of jazzers and Latin rockers from Dizzy Gillespie to Santana.
Tito Puente was more than a flamboyant percussionist; he was a multi-instrumentalist and gifted composer. Despite the importance and popularity of Tito’s music, his contributions are too often ignored – witness Ken Burns’ television documentary about jazz which he virtually ignores Afro-Cuban jazz – this book reclaims Tito’s rightful place in the history of music.