Born Ernest Anthony Puente Jr., master percussionist Tito Puente is highly regarded as a driving force in the marriage between Afro-Cuban music and jazz. Though he died in 2000, his music – and the impact he’s had on others – lives on.
The Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra presents Tito Puente Masterworks Live!!! (Jazzheads, 2011), an hour-plus set of 13 brassy, percussive songs that were written or arranged by Puente. The concert was recorded on November 3, 2008, in the John C. Borden Auditorium at the institution. The album was produced by conductor Bobby Sanabria, who also contributes voice and percussion on selected tracks.
Danny Rivera reconstructed Puente’s arrangement of “Bohemia (Birdland) After Dark,” which features Alex Lopez on tenor sax, Norman Edwards on vibes, Anthony Stanco on trumpet, Eddy Hackett on bongo and Christian Sands on piano. With multiple percussionists on this and other tracks, the song is busy in a notes-per-beat sense. The band’s enthusiasm carries over into the audience, as cheers can be heard at various points.