Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tito Puente (April 20, 1923 – May 31, 2000) was an influential Latin jazz and mambo musician. The Puerto Rican native of Spanish Harlem in New York City is often credited as the " El Rey" (the King) of the timbales, and is known for dance-oriented, mambo and latin jazz compositions that helped keep his career going for some fifty years. He has also done some acting, including in the 1992 film The Mambo Kings and a series of guest appearances on the popular 1980s television show The Cosby Show.
During the 1950s, Puente was at the height of his mass popularity, and helped to bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds, like mambo, son, and cha-cha-cha, to mainstream audiences. Later, he moved into still 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". In 1990, Puente was awarded the "James Smithson Bicentennial Medal". He died in 2000 and was awarded a Grammy at the first Latin Grammy Awards , winning Best Traditional Tropical Album for Mambo Birdland .
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