I threw together some of the earlier RCA recordings of a younger Tito Puente in the 1950′s. This is the era of the big bandleaders and when the mambo craze was in full swing. If you hadn’t known already, singer/composer/pianist/timbales virtuoso Tito Puente is actually Puerto Rican and not Cuban – and this was the period that ushered Puerto Rican musicians into the New York/Latin music scene (Tito Rodriguez, Noro Morales, et al). Prior to that, most bandleaders were Cuban, but everyone seemed to collaborate well together. Cuban singer Vicentico Valdés actually sings with Puente on Lagrimas Negras (one of my favorite songs) and I am quite sure Tito Puente’s band reflected the pan-Latin melting pot that was New York at the time. I have more Tito Puente 45′s somewhere, but if my life and office weren’t such a mess……perhaps I’ll amend the post later if I find more. Enjoy!