The Raices Latin Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution is pleased to announce that it has lent a wooden marimba once belonging to the great "El Rey" Tito Puente, for inclusion in the exhibition entitled, "RIFF--When Africa got us grooving" at Quebec City's Musee de la civilisation. The exhibit will be on view from June 2, 2010 until March 13, 2011 and examines the influence of African musical culture on today's popular music in North and South America.
More than any other cultural phenomenon, music has traveled from continent to continent, where it has been adopted blended, and transformed over the years. The exhibition is based on "Music in Motion" by the National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, the Netherlands. Since the arrival of the first African slaves in Virginia in 1619, music has migrated to the four corners of the globe through a complex network of inspiration and imitation. Styles ranging from gospel to spiritual, jazz, rock bebop, salsa, rap, hip-hop and others clearly owe a debt to African roots.
Maestro Puente's marimba will be in good company, for the exhibition will include a jacket worn by Elvis Presley, Miles Davis' red trumpet, a dress worn by Ella Fitzgerald, one of James Brown's capes, Dede Fortin's guitar, Charlie Biddle's bass, and many more legendary objects from the biggest names in music.
Tito Puente (1923-2000) was born in New York City and named Ernesto Antonio Puente, Jr., but he became known as El Rey or "The King" of Latin Music. An internationally acclaimed multi instrumentalist, composer, arranger and bandleader, Puente won four GRAMMY awards and created Latin music classics. A virtuoso timbales player and great arranger, he would later revolutionize the way orchestras presented the rhythm section. Growing up in El Barrio (East Harlem), he began performing at age five with his sister in dance contests. By the age of 13 he was playing professionally with local bands. At age 17 he played drums with Machito and his Afro-Cubans. After serving in the Navy he attended the Juilliard School of Music and joined the popular Noro Morales Orchestra. Puente eventually formed a group called the Piccadilly Boys, which became the Tito Puente Orchestra and went on to record over 120 albums, of which his Dancemania, recorded in 1958 is widely considered his finest. In his over 50 years in music he collaborated and cultivated some of the best singers...