puerto rican musician

Happy Birthday, Tito Puente!

Ernesto Antonio “Tito” Puente, (April 20, 1923 – June 1, 2000),[1] was an American salsa musician and Latin jazz composer. The son of native Puerto Ricans, Ernest and Ercilia Puente, living in New York City's Spanish Harlem community, Puente is often credited as “The Musical Pope,” “El Rey de los Timbales” (The King of the timbales) and “The King of Latin Music.” He is best known for dance-oriented mambo and Latin jazz compositions that helped keep his career going for 50 years. He and his music appear in many films such as The Mambo Kings and Fernando Trueba‘s Calle 54. He guest-starred on several television shows including Sesame StreetThe Cosby Showand, most notably, The Simpsons two-part episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”.

Tito Puente was born on April 20, 1923, at Harlem Hospital Center in New York City. His family moved frequently, but he spent the majority of his childhood in the Spanish Harlem area of the city. Puente’s father was the foreman at a razorblade factory.

As a child, he was described as hyperactive, and after neighbors complained of hearing seven-year-old Puente beating on pots and window frames, his mother sent him to 25 cent piano lessons. By the age of 10, he switched to percussion, drawing influence from jazz drummer Gene Krupa. He later created a song-and-dance duo with his sister Anna in the 1930s and intended to become a dancer, but an ankle tendon injury prevented him pursuing dance as a career. When the drummer in Machito’s band was drafted to the army, Puente subsequently took his place.

Tito Puente Sr. served in the Navy for three years during World War II after being drafted in 1942. He was discharged with a Presidential Unit Citation for serving in nine battles on the escort carrier USS Santee (CVE-29). The GI Bill allowed him to study music at Juilliard School of Music, where he completed a formal education in conducting, orchestration and theory. In 1969, he received the key to the City of New York from former Mayor John Lindsay. In 1992, he was inducted into the National Congressional Record, and in 1993 he received the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal from the Smithsonian.[5]

During the 1950s, Puente was at the height of his popularity, and helped to bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds, like mamboson, and cha-cha-cha, to mainstream audiences. Puente was so successful playing popular Afro-Cuban rhythms that many people mistakenly identify him as Cuban. Dance Mania, possibly Puente’s most well known album was released in 1958.[6] Later, he moved into more diverse sounds, including pop music, bossa nova and others, eventually settling down with a fusion of Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz genres that became known as “salsa” (a term that he disliked). In 1979, Puente won the first of five Grammy Awards for the albums A Tribute to Benny MoréOn BroadwayMambo Diablo, and Goza Mi Timbal. In 1990, Puente was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal. He was also awarded a Grammy at the first Latin Grammy Awards, winning Best Traditional Tropical Album for Mambo Birdland. In 1995, he appeared as himself on the Simpsons episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” In early 2000, he shot the music documentaryCalle 54, wearing an all-white outfit with his band.[7] After a show in Puerto Rico on May 31, he suffered a massive heart attack and was flown to New York City for surgery to repair aheart valve, but complications developed and he died during the night of May 31 – June 1, 2000.[8] He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

Tito Puente’s name is often mentioned in a television production called La Epoca,[9] a film about the Palladium era in New York, Afro-Cuban music and rhythms, Mambo and Salsa as dances and music and much more. The film discusses many of Tito Puente’s as well as Arsenio Rodríguez’s contributions, and features interviews with some of the musicians Puente recorded with such as Alfonso “El Panameno” Joseph, Luis Mangual, Julian Lianos and others.

Puente’s youngest son, Tito Puente, Jr., has continued his father’s legacy by presenting many of the same songs in his performances and recordings, while daughter Audrey Puenteis a television meteorologist for WNYW and WWOR-TV in New York City. Puente’s granddaughter, Janeen Puente, is a singer and bandleader. Her band is known as the Janeen Puente Orchestra.

Norosbaldo Morales (January 4, 1912, Puerta de Tierra – January 16, 1964, San Juan) was a Puerto Rican pianist and bandleader.

Morales learned several instruments as a child. He played in Venezuela from 1924 to 1930, then returned to Puerto Rico to play with Rafaél Muñoz. He emigrated to New York City in 1935, and played there with Alberto Socarras and Augusto Cohen. In 1939, he and brothers Humberto and Esy put together the Brothers Morales Orchestra. He released the tune “Serenata Ritmica” on Decca Records in 1942, which catapulted him to fame in the mambo and rumbamusic world; his band rivaled Machito’s in popularity in New York in the 1940s.

It was during this time that his orchestra played for the Havana Madrid nightclub.

In 1960 Morales returned to Puerto Rico and played locally; he also worked with Tito RodríguezJosé Luis MoneróChano PozoWillie Rosario and Tito Puente. Among the musicians who played in Morales’ orchestra were Ray Santos, Jorge López, Rafí Carrero, Juancito Torres, Pin Madera, Ralph Kemp, Pepito Morales, Carlos Medina, Lidio Fuentes, Simón Madera, Ana Carrero, Pellin Rodriguez, and Avilés.

The height of his fame and record production was his production of rumba records with his sextet, done after he gave up the big band idea. His use of the piano as both melody and rhythm was highly innovative at the time. [“Linda Mujer”], [“Campanitas de Cristal”], [“Perfume de Gardenias”], [“Me Pica La Lengua”] and [“Silencio”], all songs composed by others, were four of his big successes in this line.


Hector Lavoe y Fania All-Stars- Migente (live in Zaire, Africa)

Paul Albert Masvidal (born January 20, 1971) is the guitarist, singer and a founding member of the progressive metal band Cynic and previously led the alternative rock band Æon Spoke.

Paul Masvidal was born in Puerto Rico to Cuban-American civic and business leader Raul Masvidal. Masvidal’s early days were spent in the Miami area where he studied classical guitar from an early age with Carlos Molina. Guitar teacher Dave Weissbrot was a major influence and spurred Masvidal’s love of jazz, Steinberger guitars, and Eastern philosophy; he became an initiate to Kriya Yoga in his late teens and has been a Buddhist practitioner since 2000. Masvidal met drummer Sean Reinert in 1984 at Gulliver Academy and immediately started jamming with him, forming the pre-Cynic Crypha and Seaweed.

Masvidal talks in detail about his experiences in his early life in some posts in his “Metta Mind Journal” series, which he publishes on the music blog MetalSucks.

Cynic released four demos from 1988 though 1991, with Masvidal developing a reputation in the Florida metal scene for his musicianship. In 1989, when Masvidal was in high school, he toured Mexico as a replacement guitarist for the band Death but declined an invitation to permanently join the band in order to remain committed to Cynic. This had many journalists curious at the time, since Death were emerging as an influential and popular underground act, but Masvidal stuck to his guns and claimed to firmly believe in Cynic. However, Masvidal returned to the Death fold replacing guitaristJames Murphy for dates on the international Spiritual Healing tour in 1990, leading in 1991 to Masvidal and fellow Cynic member Reinert being recruited by Death to record the “groundbreaking" Human. In addition, in 1991 Masvidal helped Chicago band Master to record their album On the Seventh Day God Created… Master. Masvidal handled all guitars duties on this album. After finishing their world tour with Death, both Masvidal and Reinert returned to Cynic in 1992.

1993 saw the release of Focus on the Roadrunner label, the only album Cynic recorded until 2008. Roadrunner released a reissue of Focus in 2005 as a special collector’s edition due to high demand. Masvidal also recorded the Cynic spin-off Portal, but by 2007 Cynic returned to touring, featuring Masvidal and Reinert.

Based in Los Angeles, Masvidal studied at Musicians Institute and also formed the ethereal alternative band Æon Spoke with Reinert, described as ‘progressive ethereal rock’ and had a full-length release in 2007 on SPV Records. In 2004, the band received airplay in the UK for the single Silence, including BBC Radio 2 and XFM, leading to numerous UK gigs and radio appearances. The following year, the track Emmanuel appeared in the film What the Bleep Do We Know!? and the band returned to Europe. Their tracks have also appeared on the Warner Brothers television seriesSmallvilleOne Tree Hill and the motion picture Cry Wolf.

Masvidal also writes and performs music for television and motion pictures, credits include main title (composer credit) on an Emmy nominated NBC teen series show Operation Junkyard, short filmsThe Yellow UmbrellaA Bride In Black, assistant to Ben Vaughn and session musician for Carsey Warner network sitcoms That '70s Show and 3rd Rock from the Sun. Masvidal has library songs regularly performed on network and cable television and has also collaborated with 80s pop singer Terri Nunn. Music writer Jeff Wagner, in Mean Deviation, stated that "any viewer of 3rd Rock from the SunThat '70s ShowThe Price Is RightQueer as Folk, and any number of random television programs has probably stumbled across Cynic’s core members without even knowing it.”

Masvidal finished recording a new Cynic album titled Traced in Air, which was released on November 17, 2008 in Europe and November 25, 2008 in the USA to critical acclaim. Since the release ofTraced in Air, Masvidal has toured with Cynic as part of several large tour packages, playing with such popular metal acts as OpethDream TheaterMastodonMeshuggahBetween the Buried and Me, and The Faceless. At the Hove Festival, Masvidal and Cynic shared the stage with more mainstream acts such as The KillersArcade FireModest MouseSlayer and Queens of the Stone Age. In 2010, Cynic released an EP entitled Re-traced, featuring re-interpretations of several Traced in Air tracks. Cynic released an album titled Carbon-Based Anatomy worldwide on November 11, 2011, receiving positive reviews.

Masvidal appeared on the Devin Townsend project album Deconstruction as a guest vocalist on the song “Sumeria”, alongside Joe Duplantier of Gojira.

Ben Ratliff of the New York Times referred to Masvidal’s “philosophic lyrics”, stating that he is “a musician who can expand his own sense of calm into an aggressive, extravagant art”.

As an inventor, Masvidal filed a successful patent in 1999 (which was approved in 2002), involving a device to assist voice-disabled individuals. Masvidal’s interest stems from his extensive volunteer work with AIDS patients, the terminally ill and the elderly in the Los Angeles area.

Rafi Escudero (born December 30, 1945) is a Puerto Rican musiciansingercomposerpoet and a political activist.

Escudero was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico the capital city of the island. His parents were well aware that their son was musically inclined at a young age. They also stressed that their son receive a good education and sent him to study in private schools. They wanted their son to learn about classical music and contracted the services of violin teacher Eduardo Geigel to teach Escudero how to play the violin. When Escudero wasn’t in school or taking violin classes, he would spend hours on the family piano until he finally taught himself how to play. He perfected his piano playing by taking piano leasons from the maestro Pedro Escabi.

During the 1960s, he enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico where he studied humanities. As a student in the university, he was exposed to the works of some of Puerto Rico’s greatest poets, Antonio Machado, Julia de Burgos and Juan Antonio Corretjer. The works of these poets greatly influenced Escudero and where to serve as the basis for his inspiration.

Escudero debuted as a musician by recording modernized versions of classical danzas. He recorded “Añoranzas”, “Carta a Juan Morel” and “Caricias”. The recordings were a success and Escudero received the acceptance and recognition from the public and fellow musicians alike.

During the 1970s, Escudero composed many songs that were recorded by the following singers, Danny RiveraMarco Antonio MuñizJose FelicianoCheo FelicianoIsmael Miranda and many others. Escudero recorded ’Sin tu Amor“ (Without your Love), ”Cuando el amor germina“, ”Repica ese guiro y canta“ and ”Pa’ cortase las venas“. He also participated with dozens of Latin Americansingers in the recording of ”Somos el Projimo“ (We’re your neighbor) which was the Latin-American version of ”We Are The World“. Escudero, appeared in the film "Under Suspicion” starring Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman as a Ballroom musician and performed in the song “Party Man” written by Miguel Zayas.

Escudero wrote two books of poetry. The first book was titled “En un Mundo de Cuerdos” and the second book “Comentario desde el Soberao”, published by the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture. In 1999, he recorded “Comentario desde el Soberao” where he describes the situations and characters in his book. This was the first time that a poet/musician combined his poems and music together.

Among the many awards and recognitions bestowed upon Escudero are the following, The Agüeybaná de Oro for composer of the year 1981 and the Outstanding Singer Award in the Record Festivals from 1983 to 1985.

In 1998, Escudero was named by Puerto Rico’s governor Pedro Rosselló to join the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture and of the Luis A. Ferre Center for the Performing Arts (Centro de Bellas Arts). In 2001, he ran for the position of president of the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico, however he withdrew from the race. Escudero currently remains politically active in the party.