Tito Puente

Mambo of the Times

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Through his consistently infectious series of recordings for Concord Picante, Tito Puente reinforced his position as one of the most important leaders of Latin jazz. On this CD (which is exciting, danceable and quite surprising within the boundaries of the genre), Puente and his 11-piece unit (which includes trumpeter Charlie Sepulveda and tenorman Mario Rivera) play at their best. "Things to Come" is a strong opener, Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" gets an off-the-wall but successful transforation and even "Passion Flower" and "If You Could See Me Now" (neither of which would normally be thought of in this context) work well. All five horns have their opportunites to star (the flute tradeoff on "The Best Is Yet to Come" is impressive) and the rhythm section shows that it can compete favorably with that of any other Latin band. Other than the remarkably juvenile liner notes from jazz wannabee Bill Cosby, this is a highly recommended set.

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