Tito Puente

50 Years of Swing: 50 Great Years & Tracks

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The concept behind this three-CD set was to pick out some of the highpoints from Tito Puente's half-century career. Unfortunately, the end results are not very well-planned. The music skips around time-wise (instead of being in chronological order), the exact recording dates are not given (just the year), and the full personnel is also absent; only the names of a few (but not all) of the featured vocalists and soloists are given. What could have been a significant set is instead just so-so. The first disc concentrates mostly on salsa vocal performances, starting with a number from Jose Curbelo's 1946 orchestra with Tito Rodriguez doing the singing (Puente worte the arrangement) and continuing with features for Vicentico Valdes, Graciela, Abbe Lane, Santos Colon, La Lupe, Migueloito Valdes, and Machito, reaching up to 1981. The second disc is mostly (but not entirely) instrumentals from 1955-1995 including "Ran Kan Kan" and "Mambo Herd 1959" (with Woody Herman) and features for Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, Candido, Steve Turre, Hilton Ruiz, and even Lionel Hampton and Cal Tjader. The second disc concludes with two previously unreleased numbers from 1977. The final CD (covering 1956-1994) has both Afro-Cuban jazz and some salsa, randomly programmed. Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, James Moody and India make appearances. The end results of this potentially significant set are basically a mess. There is some good music along the way but it is illogically planned.

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