Tito Puente

American musician (1923-2000)

Ernesto Antonio "Tito" Puente (April 20, 1923 – May 31, 2000) was an American musician, songwriter and record producer.


  • I have never heard any good American Latin jazz orchestra, never. You can know lots of music, but the clave is something you can’t learn anywhere. I go to universities all over the place for Latin jazz workshops and I see that. They don’t even know what a drum is.
  • When things get solved in Cuba, the Cuban musicians will scare a lot of musicians from here. I always tell everybody: As soon as the Cubans come, a lot of people are going to have to go back to school all over again. In Cuba it’s different--there they really study music. If you are a musician in Cuba, that’s all you do. Brazilians also play a lot of jazz, but I think Cubans are the more advanced in both jazz technique and rhythm.
  • My kids now, they speak very little Spanish. That's because they go to school and they speak in English; my wife speaks English with them at the house. When I was growing up, my parents insisted that we speak and read Spanish. I'm so happy that they did that, because we developed their culture and their roots. I learned the cultures of the Latin people, which is very important, because in this country at the time that I was being brought up, there was nothing that they taught us about [Latin] culture. America-only history you learn...
  • The people love our Latin American music. Sometimes they don't understand our lyrics, but they love our rhythms, and that's what's important in Latin American music—in our music from the Caribbean or Brazil or wherever. The percussion is what really makes the music exciting.
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