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Tito Puente

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Tito Puente (1923-2000) was a noted Latin-American jazz and mambo bandleader and percussionist, who performed nearly continuously from 1937 to his death, interrupted only by a stint in the Navy. In 1993, [1] Puente guest starred on Sesame Street in multiple segments, including one in which his dance music eventually wins over even Oscar the Grouch. Years later, he was parodied as Tito, the world's greatest timbale playing bat.

Puente performed with swing bandleader Charlie Barnett and various Latin bands in the 1940s and 1950s. He subsequently formed his own group, the Tito Puente Orchestra, and also composed such songs as "Oye Como Va" (recorded by Carlos Santana). He became an iconic representative and spokesman for Latin music, especially the mambo, and appeared in that capacity in such films as Radio Days (standing in for Xavier Cugat), Salsa, and The Mambo Kings, and in episodes of The Cosby Show and The Simpsons.


  1. TV listings. Chronicle-Telegram. August 13-August 20, 1993.

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