by Bobby Sanabria

Through the end of the millennium Maestro Puente continued building on the bridges he had made. In his cameo appearance in the Mambo Kings movie in 1991 and his constant touring, Tito continued to be a worldwide phenomenon. In this same year, he would also record his 100th solo album. He appeared on the Bill Cosby Show, Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and later on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He was featured on Sesame Street, Nickolodeon and The Simpsons. [Tito on Sesame Street with Oscar The Grouch] His popularity rose to the point that even young children from the farthest reaches of the globe recognized this musical titan. He continued to record yearly, reaching the incredible mark of 118 albums by a solo artist, a feat that had long surpassed Frank Sinatra and is in the Guiness Book of World Records. Tito still found time to work as a guest on other projects including my 1993 release NYC Aché.

Tito Puente Sesame Street with Oscar The Grouch (Ran Kan Kan)

Living Legend Numerous honorary doctorates were bestowed on this son of "El Barrio," and it was great to see Tito revel in the recognition he so richly deserved. This also included his image being used on a limited edition postage stamp in 1995 and in 1997 receiving the National Medal of Arts from President Clinton. By the year 2000, Maestro Puente had received his fifth Grammy for Martin Cohen and Tito Puente Mambo Birdland, a retrospective of the Mambo Kings' most exciting material from the 1950s recorded in front of a live New York audience. In 1998, the prestigious Berklee College of Music gave Tito a tribute concert, which yours truly conducted; featuring a big band made up of a rainbow coalition of talented students. The highlight was a special slide presentation from Martin Cohen's personal archives. If this were not enough, this past April Tito was officially given the title "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress.

Rafael Hernández Banda Escolar

Tito Puente (with Carmen Miranda, Selena, Carlos Gardel and Celia Cruz)
on the “Latin Music Legends” US Postal Service stamps.

Originally from Latin Percussion. | Reprinted by permission from Latin Percussion.
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