His name is a rhythmic synonym of words like salsa and sabor. He has been categorized as the most important composer of the salsa movement during the 1970s and 1980s. However, his work as a composer is not merely circumscribed to the salsa idiom. He has composed hundreds of tunes based on the rhythms of samba, vallenato and bomba, among others. Due to the sonorous and thematic evolution of salsa, other names appear as authors of the compositions currently interpreted by today's young salsa singers. But none of them can match the artistic stature of Curet Alonso, who has contributed many compositional jewels to the rhythmic repertoire of the Caribbean.
On the ninth day of November 1998, we visited Don Tite's residence in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, with the purpose of creating a biographical sketch of the composer. It was a brief conversation which shall be continued in the near future. Tite has the ability to condense many ideas in very few words. His life, his work and his anecdotes can be analyzed from multiple perspectives. However, the following paragraphs do not intend to analyze such matters. Instead, the only aim is to partially describe some facts surrounding the existence of Don Tite Curet. To go any further would require the space of an entire book to account for the sum of his actions.
Sali Porque Sali
Catalino "Tite" Curet Alonso was born on February 12, 1926, in Guayama, Puerto Rico, a region of sugarcane plantations with a wealth of Afro-Rican musical and religious traditions. Before he turned 2 years old, Tite moved with his mother to Santurce's Barrio Obrero, a low-income suburb of San Juan. While living in that neighborhood, he was drawn into the musical environment which molded his artistic sensitivity. The gifted child learned to love the musical traditions found in the narrow streets and alleys of Barrio Obrero, the birthplace of such prominent figures as Tito Rodríguez, Gilberto Monroig and Rafael Cortijo. He never missed any rehearsals or performances conducted by the local bomba and plena groups, dance orchestras and singing guitar trios. He asserts that he was the happiest child in the entire world, despite the marginalizing presence of poverty and racism. His songs denote a predilection for those matters of particular concern to the least privileged socioeconomic sectors. In this sense, his work could be compared to that of a newspaper which is eagerly read by all members of a heterogeneous community. In fact...