The Bottom Line
For fans of Tito Puente and the music of New York's mambo kings, this collection of Puente's 78s recorded for Tico are not to be missed. With great remastering of difficult media, these sizzling compositions and arrangements remind us why the New York sound of the era took the world by storm. A must have for collectors and percussionists and sheer joy for dancers and fans of mambo, cha cha and heartfelt boleros.
- Excellent remastering of early works mostly available as 78 rpms
- Liner notes by Joe Conzo make getting physical media worthwhile
- First 2 of 4 planned volumes of all of Tito Puente's 78s made for Tico records between 1949 and 1955.
- Each volume is a 2-disc set with 40 tracks of classic Mambo Kings music.
- Released by Fania/EMusica: Vol 1 - Aug. 2008, Vol 2 - Sept. 2008
Guide Review - Review: Tito Puente - 'The Complete 78s' - Vol 1 & Vol 2 (1949-1955)
In 1949 Tito Puente was 28 years old and already setting the New York Latin music world on fire with his masterful percussion, compositions and arrangements. 1949 was also the year that Puente started recording for Tico Records, a new label that specialized in Latin music. Between 1949 and 1955 Puente recorded a large body of work for Tico via the 78-rpm format with 156 songs appearing on their lists.
Fania Records bought Tico in 1974 while Fania was acquired by Emusica in 2005. In a move that must be regarded as more than an attempt to capitalize on Puente’s name, Emusica hired Puente contemporary, friend and historian Joe Conzo to assemble and remaster the early Puente 78 recordings for Tico. The project was conceived as a four-part series of double disc CDs; Volume 1 was released Aug. 2008, Volume 2 in Sept. 2008 while the other 2 releases are still in the works.
Puente was also doing some recording for RCA at the same time (The Complete RCA Recordings in 2 volumes) but while RCA was pushing for the big band swing sound that could easily be appreciated by a crossover audience, the Tico recordings were aimed at the heart of the New York Latin community.
This collection reflects an amazing body of work, full of the mambos, cha chas, rumbas and boleros that are not only infectious but are a musical time machine taking us back to the days of the NY Palladium and the age of the Mambo Kings.
Volume 1 features vocals by Vicentico Valdez, Johnny Lopez and Bobby Escoto with Mongo Santamaria joining Puente on percussion. On Volume 2 we get more Valdes but have the addition of the De Castro Sisters on some of the vocals the band is enhanced by Charlie Palmieri and Willie Bobo.
These CDs are a must have for both collectors and fans of the early days of New York mambo.