Tito Puente and his Orchestra / Dance Mania / RCA Victor, 1958
Tito Puente followed up his remarkable crepuscular album, Night Beat with another wonderful album, Dance Mania a record that erupted from the well-spring of Latin rhythms. The music revolved around a spicy mix of mambo, guaguancó and son montuno. Ironically there was no enhanced rhythm section, but the fact that Mr. Puente’s orchestra now included the inimitable Ray Barretto on congas seemed to fired up the rest of the rhythm section of Ray Rodríguez on bongos, bassist Bobby Rodríguez—whose impeccable harmonics had become the second nature of the orchestra—and the pianism of Raymond Concepción. In all of this was woven the trumpets and saxophones, with the rhapsodic timbales and vibes as well as now marimba as well of Tito Puente adding the decorative elements of the musical fabric, which made the music of the orchestra rock and swerve and swagger with elegance and intricacy.
Added to all of the instrumentation was a wonderful choral element as well. The extraordinary results were felt in charts such as “3-D Mambo,” “Varsity Drag,” which was followed by the spectral brilliance of “Estoy Siempre Junto A Ti” a ballad of magnificent proportions—made so by the superb vocals of Santitos Colón and the glacial spectacle of Tito Puente’s sustaining pedal as he prayed his magnificat on the vibraphones to make this chart a truly special one.
Track List – El Cayuco; Complicacion; 3-D Mambo; Llego Mijan (Son Montuno); Cuando Te Vea (Guaguanco); Hong Kong Mambo; Mambo Gozon; Mi Chiquita Quiere Bembé; Varsity Drag; Estoy Siempre Junto A Ti; Agua Limpia Todo; Saca Tu Mujer.
Personnel – Tito Puente: leader, arranger, timbales, vibraphone & marimba; Bernie Glow: trumpet; Jimmy Frisaura: trumpet; Frank Lo Pinto: trumpet; George López: trumpet; Gene Repetti: trumpet; Larry Moser: trumpet; León Merian: trumpet; Rafael Palau: saxophone; Jerry Sanfino: saxophone; Schapp Pullman: saxophone; Tony Buonpastore: saxophone; Raymond Concepción: piano; Bobby Rodríguez: bass; Ray Barretto: congas; Ray Rodríguez: bongos; Julito Collazo, congas (4, 11); Santitos Colón: lead vocals; Vitin Avilés: chorus; Otto Olivar: chorus; Santitos Colón: chorus; Mickey Crofford: original studio engineer.