Farewell To A Friend

As you all probably already know, my friend Tito Puente passed away last evening. He was a great band leader but most of all he was my friend. I'm going to miss his smile and most of all his infectious laugh. Tito gave me an opportunity 7 years ago to join his band and to develop into becoming his lead trumpeter. I will forever be indebted to him for pushing me to places that I thought that my personal life and playing would never get to. The passing of Tito leaves a musical void that can never be filled by anybody else.

God Bless,
Ray Vega

.......Psalm 150:5/6
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Bandleader Tito Puente Dies Thursday June 1, 2000 1:20 pm NEW YORK (AP)

Bandleader and percussionist Tito Puente, who rode to fame on the heels of the 1950s mambo craze and for the next five decades helped define Latin jazz, died today. He was 77. Puente, who was recently treated for a heart problem, died at NYU Medical Center in New York, said his agent, Eddie Rodriguez. Puente recorded more than 100 albums in his more than 60 years in the business. He won his fifth Grammy in February for best traditional tropical Latin performance for "Mambo Birdland" and has been nominated for the award 10 times.

Puente brought the timbales, a pair of single-headed drums mounted on stands and played with sticks, from behind the band to the front of the bandstand and played standing up.

"The excitement of the rhythms and the beat make people happy," he said in a 1997 Associated Press interview. "We try to get our feelings to the people, so they enjoy it. I start off writing a straight jazz arrangement, then I just add a Latin rhythm section."

"It's the same reason kids like rock 'n' roll. It has the beat. I think bop, which neglected rhythm and neglected dancers, did a lot to kill big bands."

Puente had been released from a San Juan, Puerto Rico, hospital May 2 after two days of treatment for an irregular heartbeat. Puente canceled all his events in May, including three concerts planned with the Symphonic Orchestra of Puerto Rico.

"As long as I have my health, I'll continue to work as long as I can," he said. "I may have to slow down next year a little, get to the semiretirement stage. But there are a couple of things I want to do first."

The Puente Family requests donations to be made to the following foundations:

Tito Puente Scholarship Foundation
425 Riverside Dr. Suite 15E
NY, NY 10025

The Tito Puente Memorial Scholarship Fund for Latino Outreach The Hackley School
293 Benedict Ave.
Tarrytown, NY 10591
Attn: Cathy Dalyi

Any additional correspondence to the Puente Family should be directed to:
Debra Mercado National Dir. of Publicity RMM Records
568 Broadway, Suite 806
New York, NY 10012
E-mail: mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: http://www.rmmrecords.com

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Tito Puente
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