June 2, 2000


In Memoriam: Tito Puente (1923-2000)

Ernest Anthony Puente, Jr., better known worldwide as Maestro Tito Puente, passed away earlier this morning (June 1, 2000). The last survivor of the Mambo Triumvirate (Machito, Puente, Rodriguez) and one of the true pioneers of Latin Music, TP leaves at one of his busiest periods ever in the business. As a matter of fact, as a result of his cardiac complications, he had to cancel his whole May and June schedules (including several appearances worldwide and the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazzfest, which begins today). His very last concert appearance was precisely here in Puerto Rico, on April 29, 2000, completing the last of his series of performances with Puerto Rico's Orquesta Sinfónica. After completing that show, he was rushed to a nearby hospital, as he had problems with his breathing. He left the hospital (in great condition, by the way) and returned to New York to continue his treatment.

His career spanned more than five decades, and his legacy will live on forever. We might say that he died without fulfilling his dream of playing his timbales on the Moon, as he always joked about that, but he will quite surely "plant" his timbale set upstairs in Heaven. May he rest in peace.

Gracias, Maestro!


Ernest Anthony Puente Jr., Tito Puente, uno de los grandes pioneros de la Musica Latina y uno de sus íconos más reconocibles a nivel mundial, falleció en horas de esta madrugada. El fallecimiento de Puente ocurre en uno de los momentos más activos en su carrera. De hecho, el tuvo que literalmente cancelar un mar de actividades que tenía pautadas para los meses de Mayo y Junio para tratarse su arritmia cardiaca (entre ellos el Heineken Jazzfest, que inicia precisamente hoy). Con su fallecimiento, muere uno de los pioneros del género, así como el único sobreviviente de lo que muchos unánimemente consideran como el Triunvirato del Mambo (The Palladium aces: Puente, Machito and Tito Rodriguez). No logró cumplir su sueño de "plantar los timbales en la Luna," como siempre bromeó, pero si estamos seguros que los va a plantar allá en la Gloria Celestial y de qué manera. Willie Bobo, Kako, Cortijo, Guillermo Barreto y los demás allá arriba: prepárense que la plaza de timbalero del Heaven All-Stars ya tiene dueño oficial... (Y allá arriba a Santitos, Chivirico, Jorge Dalto, Larry Spencer, Jimmy Frisaura y compañía: "aguas," que ahí llegó el jefe!) Descanse en paz, Maestro. Y gracias por el legado...

Tommy Muriel & Javier Rivera, Oasis Salsero.

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