September 4, 2008

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Tito Puente and His Orchestra, Live at the 1977 Monterey Jazz Festival
Monterey Jazz Festival Records, Aug. 5

One super-sized care package of jazz received here recently came from Monterey Jazz Records, this instant-classic being only the tip of iceberg. As iceberg tips go, though, it’s amazing, finding the King of Latin Music going nuclear at the Super Bowl of jazz, his hands and sticks moving up through the gears of his timbales in the run-up to an animated rendition of “Para Los Rumberos” (Punte’s universally familiar salsa tune, the one that invokes Vegas-bound jetliners the way bread bespeaks butter). Immediately following this is another world-famous artifact, “Oye Como Va,” heavy on the cha-cha, another Puente work that most folks automatically credit to Santana, after which comes “Babarabatiri,” an irresistible mambo singalong. Also on board is a cha-cha version of “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” an homage to Stevie Wonder, who, Puente explains to the crowd, was instrumental in having Latin music recognized by the National Academy of Recording Artists and Composers. A Eric W. Saeger