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Tito Puente
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Tito Puente

Tito Puente (April 20, 1923 - May 31, 2000) was an influential Latin jazz and salsa musician. The Puerto Rican native of Spanish Harlem in New York City is often credited as the first pure "salsa" performer, and is known for dance-oriented, jazzy compositions that helped keep his career going for some fifty years. He has also done some acting, including in the 1992 film The Mambo Kings and a series of guest appearances on the popular 1980s television show The Cosby Show.

During the 1950s, Puente was the height of his mass popularity, and helped to bring Caribbean sounds, like the cha-cha-cha, to mainstream audiences. Later, he moved into still more diverse sounds, including pop music, bossa nova and others, eventually settling down with a fusion of Latin jazz genres that became known as "salsa". He died in 2000 and was awarded a Grammy at the first Latin Grammy Awards, winning Best Traditional Tropical Album for Mambo Birdland.

Also see