Pablo Rodriguez Lozada, better known as “Tito” Rodriguez (“tito” meaning “uncle” and sometimes “giant” in Puerto Rican Spanish) was a massively popular bandleader, singer and arranger in the 1950s when the mambo and cha-cha craze was at its height in the U.S. During this era he was just about as renowned and requested as the great Tito Puente, another legendary timbalero, who was also Rodriguez’s rival in the salsa and Latin scenes of the 50s and 60s.

This is the other side of Tito Rodriguez, “Desert Dance” (on TICO #10-035A) from the last post, and it is a beautiful, medium-burning mambo called “Donde Estabas Tu?”, “where were you?” in Spanish.

 

 

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Pablo Rodriguez Lozada, better known as “Tito” Rodriguez (“tito” meaning “uncle” and sometimes “giant” in Puerto Rican Spanish) was a massively popular bandleader, singer and arranger in the 1950s when the mambo and cha-cha craze was at its height in the U.S. During this era he was just about as renowned and requested as the great Tito Puente, another legendary timbalero, who was also Rodriguez’s rival in the salsa and Latin scenes of the 50s and 60s.

This side, “Desert Dance”, written by R. K. Mozian, is a characteristic mover-and-groover from his repertoire that features flawless execution from the horns and rhythm section, particularly the pianist who I can’t seem to identify, and of course Señor Rodriguez’s timbales sound crisp and solidly “in the pocket.” Such a hidden classic.

 

 

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Tito Puente is a musical legend whose success and popularity helped bring the music and culture of Puerto Rico, Cuba and Africa to larger mainstream audiences around the world. Very often referred to as the “King of Timbales”, Puente was born in NYC in 1923 to immigrant Puerto Rican parents, and was raised in Spanish Harlem. A naturally talented and artistic child, his career spanned six decades of the 20th century, with many, many international performances, achievements, and awards; and his discography is considered a cultural treasure. A couple of notable examples of his lasting legacy are: his 1958 album Dance Mania is listed in the National Recording Registry, and his song, “Oye Como Va”, which is considered a standard (and which Carlos Santana took to even greater heights when he released his version in 1963.)

Here he is performing his pulsating, hypnotic “Mambo Rama” with his orchestra in 1955; and man do those horns sound amazing. On the New York label TICO.

 

Tito Puente - Mambo Rama