Tito Puente and His Concert Orchestra Tito Puente and His Concert Orchestra

Tito Puente and His Concert Orchestra is part of a series of reissues of 100 classic salsa albums from the '50s to the '80s. These titles were originally issued on New York labels Fania, Tico and Alegre. Most have never before been issued on CD, or, for that matter, in Canada. If your primary knowledge of Tito Puente consists of "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" this is an interesting entrée into his career. Tito was a phenomenal multi-instrumentalist who experimented with new rhythms and interesting sounds throughout his career. This disc, recorded in 1973, features Tito in what the hip record shops call "NuYorican" mode, featuring funk breaks and plenty of Rhodes piano. The most famous tune from this CD is "Black Brothers" - insistent kit drumming and processed keyboard hooks underpin a massive horn and flute arrangement. This being a concert orchestra (and Tito Puente), the arrangements are huge and showy, but loaded with great tonal coloration. Notable sidemen are saxophonist Rene McLean (son of jazz legend Jackie McLean), and keyboard-master Charlie Palmieri. The best songs are the energetic dancers "Ritual Fire Dance" and "110th St. and 5th Ave.," and the stereo-cussion meltdown of "El Rey del Timbal." I would be remiss in not mentioning the version of the theme from "Last Tango In Paris," driven by grungy guitar and melodica. This is a fine reissue that will not leave you sitting down. (Tico)