Audio Remasterer: Alex Abrash.
Liner Note Author: Andrew Mason.
Photographers: Chuck Stewart; Joe Conzo.
Fania had already gone the completist route with Tito Puente, compiling all of his earliest 78-rpm recordings from the '40s and '50s, but El Rey represents something else: an excellent career summation of the man who meant more to Latin music than anyone else during the last half of the 20th century. Mambo leader extraordinaire, father of salsa music, and standard-bearer for virtuoso Latin music through its eventual fusion with jazz during the '80s and '90s, Puente's personality and performances (in concert or on The Cosby Show) often obscured the brilliance of his recordings, but the 45 recordings heard here -- ranging from 1949 through 1981, all originally released on the Tico label and placed in chronological order -- put the focus back on what he set down with his excellent band. The set begins with his earliest and best mambos, "Ran Kan Kan" and "Mambo Inn" and "Abaniquito," then spends well over an hour focusing on his work of the '60s, when "Agua-Nile" and "Oye Como Va" and "Caribe" showed Latin audiences and a huge number of crossover fans that Latin music had both high energy and extraordinary finesse. The second disc shows Puente moving into the '70s, adding to his palette with records like 1973's Tito Puente and His Concert Orchestra (which gets several numbers here). ~ John Bush
ReviewsThere are currently no reviews, be the first one!