Tito Puente Jr. talks about growing up with Latin music and carrying on the legacy of his father’s “cool cat” sound.
It’s early on a Saturday morning in December right before the holidays and I’m at my friend’s music studio in West Nyack, NY getting equipment set up, sound checked and preparing to interview Tito Puente Jr. when I hear the very loud and lively Tito Jr. himself at the door.
He is animated, excited and ready to get started. We’ve both been looking forward to this opportunity to share the story of he and his father.
Our first meeting was just a few months earlier in September on a previous visit of his to New York to set up the details of this interview and upon first greeting him then, it felt like I had already known him forever. Friendly, charismatic, talkative, with lots of great stories, always excited and raring to go, he seems to know half the people wherever he is—he exudes an aura of positivity and happiness.
His vibrant personality is akin to the Puente Latin music sound.
His manager, Rosalie, who is with him on this trip (and who happens to also be his wife) tells me with a laugh that he has a switch that sometimes needs to be turned off.
Arriving at the studio and bundled in their New York winter weather gear, they have flown in for a quick trip and are getting ready to turn right around after our interview and head home to sunny warm Florida.
I have the lucky fortune to snag a little time with Tito Jr. before the holidays and get some great insight on what it means to be raised the son and namesake of a legend who helped popularize Latin jazz .
Now Tito Jr. has taken the reins of what is truly an iconic brand and kept the legend alive both because he loves doing what he does and also to honor the memory of his father who grew up with humble origins and went on to become a household name.
I can see Tito’s eyes start to light up when he sees we are going to be conducting his interview at a music studio.
He is like a kid in a candy store with the sight of a drum kit, marimbas, vibraphone, keyboards, and all other kinds of music gear just waiting for someone like him to show up. It definitely has Tito Jr. excited to share his story with us.
Next page- ”What is it like to be the son of the King of Latin music himself, Tito Puente?”