Tito Puente: Hispanic-American Biographies



Tito Puente: Hispanic-American Biographies

Mary Olmstead (2004)

Pub. Raintree

This is a short (only 64 pages) biography that is nicely presented and contains a handful of photos.

Why you might buy it:

Though not stated as such by many sellers this appears to be aimed at younger readers – font size is large, the style is short & simple and most of the vaguely complicated terms (like “veteran” “el barrio” etc) are explained to the reader. As a pre/early-secondary school text this would be an excellent introduction for kids who wish/need to know more about this iconic cultural figure. It is also fairly inexpensive.

Why you might leave it:

There is no depth to the material and nothing really here for those looking for anything other than a quick summary of TP – if you want that you would be as well/better off spending time on the internet. You could easily read the whole thing in a half-hour, which for some might also be a positive I suppose.



Chapter 1. The Early Years

Chapter 2. A Musical Feast

Chapter 3. A Different Drummer

Chapter 4. Swinging with the Mambo King

Chapter 5. Making Music…and more

Chapter 6. Still Going Strong

Chapter 7. A Star to the end



Further Information


Selected Extracts (from):

(Chapter 1. The Early Years):

When Tito was about twelve, he and his younger sister Anna enjoyed watchning the movies of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. They were popular stars who danced together in several 1930’s movies. Their mother noticed her children’s interest in dance and signed them up for lessons. The dance lessons would pay off for years to come. Tito became one of the few bandleaders of his time who really knew how to dance.

(Chapter 5. Making Music…and more):

In 1955 Tito recorded Puente in Percussion with his new percussion players. This album was a creative landmark. The album was unusual because it used only percussion and bass instruments. Bass instruments are instruments having the lowest pitched sounds. There were no horns or piano to play melody. The album was modeled after the drumming used in a religious tradition called santaria. Tito had become interested in the tradition because of its ties to Cuba.

[end of extracts]

Other Reviews:

American Library Association by Gillian Engberg
This title in the Hispanic-American Biographies series supplies a straightforward introduction to Tito Puente while highlighting the musician’s wide influence on younger generations of performers. Well-organized chapters follow Puente from his childhood in New York City’s Spanish Harlem through his burgeoning career and influential partnerships with other musicians to his crowning title as Mambo King in the 1950s. Fact boxes offer historical context on such topics as racial discrimination and World War II; other insets are profiles of musicians and musical movements. A smattering of mostly good-quality photos, including some color images, illustrate, and the book concludes with a time line, a few resources, and a glossary of terms that are bolded in the text. Other titles now available introduce Cesar Chavez, Roberto Clemente, and Jody Baca.


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