Tito Puente: Quatro – The Definitive Collection

Tito Puente and his Orchestra / Night Beat / RCA Victor / 1957

Night Beat is a special record. On it Tito Puente managed to enlarge his palette of colours without enlarging the scope of his orchestra. Here he seems to have mastered tonal colour and shading using his saxophones and flutes playing contrapuntally, against his trombones and then ripping through the perfect storm of winds and reeds with a brazen trumpet section. Moreover, the percussion is muted. Drums and the rhythmic section create an interminable dance that spins like an eternal harmonic and rhythmic braid around the melodies. Each of the melodies are superbly crafted and have been crafted to “sing” in the absence of a vocalist. There is a very real reason for this. Tito Puente had attempted here to create an idiom that has a more pronounced jazz inflection to it. This was a bold step for a musician who purported to be the master of the Latin Timbales. Perhaps it is, or was to be expected: Mr. Puente was also full of surprises—even as far back in the late 1950s when it was easier to play it safe. The contrasting colours in the densely scored “Night Beat” and the shifts in rhythmic idiom from chorus to chorus in “Mambo Beat” are two of the charts that stand out; the latter with a spectacular baritone saxophone solo.

Tito Puente and His Orchestra: Night Beat
Tito Puente and His Orchestra: Night Beat

“Doc” Severinsen soars with abandon in a tone that is clear and resonant; his annunciation is clear as a bell and he all but steals the show. Mr. Puente comes from underneath the instruments to score a masterful timbale solo and bring the music home. Likewise saxophones and trombones meld like magical apothecaries potions in charts such as “Emerald Beach,” “The Late Late Scene” and in the majestic “Carioca” and “Flying Down to Rio. Yet this album did nothing to tell of the incredible things to come from Tito Puente and His Orchestra.

Track List – Night Beat; Mambo Beat; Sea Breeze; Emerald Beach; The Late Late Scene; Carioca; Night Ritual; Malibu Beat; Flying Down To Rio; Night Hawk; Live A Little.

Personnel – Tito Puente: timbales, vibraphone; Jimmy Frisaura: trumpet; Carl “Doc” Severinsen: trumpet; Francis Williams: trumpet; Gene Rapetti: trumpet; Myron D. Shain: trumpet; John Frosk: trumpet; Morty Trautman: trombone; Bob Ascher: trombone; Eddie Bert: trombone; Sonny Russo: trombone; Allen Lehvterd: saxophone; Joseph Grimaldi: saxophone; Gene Zuizz: saxophone; Martin Holmes: saxophone; Gene Quill: saxophone; Alvin Gellers: piano; Howard Collins: guitar; Harry Galbraith: guitar; Ted Summer: drums; James William Cobb: drums; Bobby Rodríguez: bass; Mongo Santamaria: congas; Julio Basabe Collazo: congas; Willie Bobo: bongos.

Raul Da Gama
Raul Da Gama
Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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