This two-CD compilation of Tito Puente's prodigious 1983-1996 Concord run is a superb introduction to "The King of Timbal" in his prime. His Latin Jazz Ensemble and Orchestra included stalwarts Sonny Bravo (piano), Jimmy Frisaura (trumpet), Mario Rivera (saxophone), Bobby Rodriguez (bass), and percussionists José Madera and José "Papo" Rodriguez. Many notable guest sound in as well: pianists Jorge Dalto, Rebeca Mauleón-Santana, Hilton Ruiz and George Shearing, trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, saxophonist Phil Woods, violinist Alfredo de la Fé, and percussionists Francisco Aguabella and John Santos. Jazz standards dominate (by Coltrane, Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Paul Desmond, Ellington, Mingus, Monk, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Horace Silver, Strayhorn), with selected pop gems (e.g., Earth, Wind and Fire's "Sun Goddess," and "On Broadway"), and compositions by George Shearing ("Consternation," "Lullaby of Birdland") and Puente himself ("Ran Kan Kan," "Oye Como Va," "Machito Forever," "Mambo King, "Picadillo al lo Puente," "Fiesta a la King," "Alluya"). For a collection light on the late great "El Rey," this Puente feast covers the waterfront. - Michael Stone
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