Tito Puente’s “El Rey Bravo” Returns on Vinyl

Written by | New Releases, News, Vinyl Corner

In a world where music has the power to transcend time and culture, certain albums take on a legendary status that defies the constraints of their era. One such masterpiece is Tito Puente’s “El Rey Bravo,” a groundbreaking Latin jazz classic originally released on Tico Records in 1962. Craft Latino is now proud to announce the reissue of this iconic album on vinyl, delivering a thrilling sonic experience that captures the essence of Puente’s genius.

Set for release on November 10th, this vinyl reissue is a celebration of Tito Puente’s unparalleled contribution to Latin music. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, “El Rey Bravo” is presented on 180-gram vinyl, offering audiophiles an exceptional listening experience. This reissue features AAA lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, ensuring the preservation of the album’s authentic sound. Moreover, the package includes a vintage-style tip-on jacket that pays homage to the classic design of the original release.

For the first time in history, fans can also experience the magic of “El Rey Bravo” in 192/24 hi-res audio on select digital platforms. This digital release allows a new generation of listeners to immerse themselves in the timeless melodies and rhythms that defined an era of Latin jazz.

As an exclusive offering, Craft Latino presents a limited edition Canary Yellow color vinyl, limited to just 500 copies. This exclusive variant comes bundled with exciting options, including a commemorative Tito Puente T-shirt, available at Fania.com. Vinyl Me, Please also joins the celebration with a 180-gram Orange Crush exclusive variant, offering collectors a unique addition to their vinyl libraries.

The reissue of “El Rey Bravo” serves as the crowning jewel in Craft Latino’s year-long centennial celebration of Tito Puente’s enduring legacy. Throughout 2023, the label has paid tribute to Puente’s vital contributions to Latin music through exclusive digital content and a series of releases. These include 180-gram vinyl pressings of Puente’s 1972 classic, “Para los Rumberos,” and his best-selling 1985 album, “Mambo Diablo.”

The journey of Tito Puente, “The King of Timbales,” is one of unwavering dedication and profound musical innovation. Born and raised in Manhattan, Puente’s love affair with music began within the heart of his family. He honed his craft under the tutelage of the legendary Cuban bandleader Machito, a pivotal figure in introducing Afro-Cuban jazz to American audiences. Puente’s relentless pursuit of excellence led him to the prestigious Juilliard School, where he earned a degree in conducting, orchestration, and theory.

By the late 1950s, Tito Puente had emerged as one of the era’s most successful bandleaders, boasting multiple hit albums, including the acclaimed “Dance Mania” in 1958. “El Rey Bravo,” released in 1962, found Puente and his orchestra at the pinnacle of their artistry. The album is a testament to their prowess, featuring a dazzling array of original dancefloor compositions primarily composed by Puente himself.

“El Rey Bravo” boasts a rich tapestry of musical gems, from the fiery opener “Malanga con Yuca” to the joyful “Batacumba” and the cinematic “Tokyo de Noche.” The album’s rarity lies in its instrumental track “Tokyo de Noche,” featuring standout flute and violin solos. Additionally, Puente and his orchestra pay homage to the legendary Augusto Algueró and Antonio Guijarro with a remarkable cover of “Tombola” from the 1962 Spanish musical of the same name.

However, the crown jewel of “El Rey Bravo” is undoubtedly “Oye Cómo Va.” Hailed by AllMusic as “one of the brightest, most exuberant Latin performances of the century,” the song stands as a classic cha-cha-chá, with an inviting chorus that beckons, “Oye cómo va/Mi ritmo” (“Listen how it goes/My rhythm”). Although cherished by fans upon its release, “Oye Cómo Va” achieved international stardom nearly a decade later, thanks to Carlos Santana.

In 1971, Carlos Santana and his band transformed “Oye Cómo Va” into a psychedelic anthem of unity, introducing a new generation to Puente’s masterpiece. Santana’s rendition became a major hit, scaling the heights of the Billboard Hot 100 and achieving Top 10 status in Mexico and Canada. This rejuvenation also breathed new life into Tito Puente’s career, propelling him to greater recognition. Puente openly expressed his gratitude to Santana for introducing Latin rock to the world, cementing their friendship and mutual respect.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Conzo Sr

The impact of “Oye Cómo Va” is immeasurable, with countless artists, including Julio Iglesias, Celia Cruz, Natalie Cole, and the Ventures, covering the song over the years. Santana’s version earned its place in history, entering the Latin GRAMMY® Hall of Fame in 2001 and the GRAMMY Hall of Fame a year later. It consistently ranks on various lists, including Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

Tito Puente’s illustrious career continued unabated until his passing in 2000. Over five decades, the prolific artist released more than 100 albums and composed over 400 original works. He collaborated with music’s biggest names, including Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, and Celia Cruz. Puente’s influence extended beyond music, as he made cameo appearances in films like “Radio Days,” “The Mambo Kings,” and the documentary “Calle 54.” He also graced the 1996 Summer Olympics’ closing ceremony, leaving an indelible mark on global culture.

Throughout his life, Tito Puente’s enduring contributions were celebrated with numerous accolades, including five GRAMMYs, Billboard’s Latin Music Lifetime Achievement Award, and the prestigious National Medal of Arts from the United States Government.

As Craft Latino pays homage to Tito Puente’s monumental career, “El Rey Bravo” stands as a beacon of Latin jazz, epitomizing the spirit and soul of an era. Its reissue is a testament to Puente’s timeless artistry, ensuring that new generations can revel in the magic of his music. So, as the vinyl spins and the rhythmic melodies of “El Rey Bravo” fill the air, Tito Puente’s legacy lives on, echoing through the annals of Latin jazz history.

More Information and order details can be found here.

Last modified: December 12, 2023