Tito Puente was more than a flamboyant percussionist; he was a multi-instrumentalist, a gifted composer and arranger, and one of the finest bandleaders of the last century.Mambo Diablo: My Journey with Tito Puente
(Backbeat Books, $29.99) by Joe Conzo with David A. Pérez chronicles the remarkable life of the popular and combative King of Latin Music, who climbed from the barrio to international fame and recognition, influencing multiple generations of jazz and Latin artists from Dizzy Gillespie
to Carlos Santana
Puente's musical career began in the U.S. Navy Band, where he worked as an arranger and player. Through the GI Bill, he was able to attend the Juilliard School, and it was there, with his razor-sharp focus and innate talent, that he took his skills to incredible heights.
No one was closer to Puente or knew him better than Conzo, his confidant and chronicler for nearly 40 years, and Mambo Diablo
is a comprehensive view of Puente and the world in which he lived. Woven into the pages are all the key players in his life, including the great bandleader Machito
and the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz
Puente's history is the history of the City of New York, making Mambo Diablo
a must-read for all who are interested in the rich musical and cultural history of the Big Apple.
Joe Conzo was one of Tito Puente's closest friends and confidants for nearly 40 years, and is a chronicler of Puente's music and life. He is a noted music historian and producer and maintains a large collection of released and unreleased recordings that includes the works of Puente and many others. Conzo contributes articles to numerous print and television outlets and is a consultant on numerous Tito Puente commercial endeavors. He lives in Warwick, N.Y.
David A. Pérez is a former political and sports writer for and has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C. He is a published author and historical researcher of Latin Music. He is a devout music collector as well as an accomplished flutist.