Survival Research presents a reissue of Tito Puente‘s “El Rey Del Timbale” (Puente In Percussion), originally released in 1956.
Percussive titan Tito Puente brought various forms of Latin rhythm into the consciousness of mainstream America and western Europe through a career that lasted over half a century, introducing enthralling Latin styles to the broader public from the early 1950s. His 1956 masterpiece “El Rey Del Timbale” features an all-star line-up consisting of Mongo Santamaria, Wilie Bobo, Cuban-born congero Carlos “Patato” Valdes (who had already recorded with Kenny Dorham for Blue Note and who was soon to record with Art Blakey), and Miami-born acoustic bassist Bobby Rodriguez (who had played with Dizzy Gillespie and Noro Morales), and Tito himself.
The end result was simply astounding, a powerhouse of percussive jams delivered Latin style. It would spawn several copycat successors, including Puente‘s own Top Percussion (1958), but nothing really tops the invigorating, spontaneous feeling captured on “Puente In Percussion”. A dramatic, action-packed set from start to finish, the beauty of the collaboration is ably reflected on “The Big Four” and “Congo Beat”; “Tito And Mongo On Timbales” is a percussive duel and “Swinging The Mambo” betrays the influence of jazz on the percussive styles.
“Puente In Percussion” was so ahead of its time that it has enjoyed repeated demand throughout the decades, reaching back into circulation in the 1960, ’70s, ’90s and into the new millennium. Puente went on to pioneer all kinds of other incredible innovations in Latin jazz and other genres, yet “Puente In Percussion” is reminiscent of the primeval percussive core at the heart of his work. Crank it up and let the rhythms work their magic.