A while ago, we said that we would do some Latin jazz reviews, and it is about time we got around to them. We're going to focus on Tito Puente, who was one of the greatest Latin jazz percussionists of all time and one of the biggest names in Latin jazz music. His work, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, closed the gap between jazz and Latin music, therefore improving the quality of jazz as a whole, its diversity, and its influence.
Although Tito Puente emerged on the music scene in the 1940s and 1950s, it was much later when his music began to be more about jazz than Latin music, and in many of his recordings, Tito Puente was the only musician giving it a Latin feel.
Puente made many fine improvisation-packed recordings in the 80s and 90s, and among these was a recording made with Tito Puente's band and guest vibraphonist Terry Gibbs. The tune played was "Jordu".
Tito Puente and Terry Gibbs play "Jordu". To listen on YouTube, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLmHVjbygUc
This version of "Jordu" is less than four minutes long, but the extended vibraphone solo and the interpretation of the tune makes it worth a listen. The soloist for the recording, Terry Gibbs, is now over 90 years old, and he has experienced a long career with numerous jazz greats, particularly in the big band field of jazz. His recording with Tito Puente is not an exception to this successful career.
The "Jordu" recording begins with an introduction that could easily be confused with the melody. However, when the melody starts, there is no mistake that it has started (that is, no mistake to anyone who knows the Jordu tune). The tune is played perfectly, and Terry Gibbs, who is playing the melody, flows right across Tito Puente's beat. Almost every note Terry Gibbs plays is just right; he and Puente go perfectly together.
In fact, Terry Gibbs could have been louder, much louder, since there is no reason to turn down the volume of his instrument, but instead reason to increase the volume. And, while there are some orchestrated sections along the way, this tune is a Terry Gibbs feature to the end. For those who like to hear excitement or technical excellency in jazz, or both, this is the perfect recording to hear. It is hard to make bebop phrasing more dance-able than this! But at the same time, no matter how much bebop phrasing there is on this recording, Tito Puente's rhythm will always make it a Latin jazz recording, and one many great Latin jazz recordings.
LISTEN TO MORE
Video of Tito Puente playing "Morning" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV5gJz6J8D4
Tito Puente plays "Spain" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G30G6BzWSM
General information about Terry Gibbs - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Gibbs