Nuevo Culture

Tito Puente’s “Mambo Diablo” Gets Vinyl Reissue

Los Angeles, CA (March 2023) – Craft Latino is thrilled to announce the first-ever vinyl reissue of Mambo Diablo, the acclaimed 1985 album from legendary bandleader and percussionist Tito Puente. This long-out-of-print classic, which showcases a lively blend of standards and originals (including fan favorite “Mambo Diablo”), finds the King of Latin Jazz putting his unique spin on classics like “Take Five,” “Lush Life” and “Lullaby of Birdland” (featuring its composer, George Shearing, on piano). Slated for release on May 26 and available for pre-order today, Mambo Diablo was cut from the original master tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl and housed in a tip-on jacket, the album also includes its original liner notes by Emmy®-winning journalist and longtime New York City TV reporter Pablo Guzman. Additionally, Mambo Diablo will make its debut on hi-res audio (192/24).

This special reissue comes as Craft Latino commemorates the centennial of Tito Puente. Throughout the year, Puente’s essential contributions to Latin music will be honored through special reissues (including an April release of the bandleader’s 1972 classic, Para los Rumberos), exclusive digital content, and much more. Tito Puente (1923–2000) lived numerous musical lives during his five-decade-long career. When he signed with Concord Picante in 1983, the celebrated songwriter, bandleader, producer, and percussionist was already enjoying living legend status, showing no signs of slowing down. For over 30 years, the New York-born, Puerto Rican timbalero reigned as the King of Latin Jazz, while his hugely popular records (and hits like 1962’s “Oye Como Va”) brought Afro-Cuban and Caribbean rhythms into the mainstream, popularizing styles like mambo, cha-cha-chá, and son. In the ’70s, Carlos Santana’s hit renditions of “Para los Rumberos” and the aforementioned “Oye Como Va” introduced Puente to a new generation of fans, while the ’80s ushered in yet another career resurgence for the prolific bandleader.

Mambo Diablo, released in 1985, stands as a particularly high point in Puente’s catalog during this period and marks the bandleader’s third release with Concord Picante (the then-recently established Latin arm of Concord Records). A refreshing blend of classic and original material, Mambo Diablo skillfully bridges the gap between Latin and jazz and serves as a testament not only to Puente’s versatility as a musician (his outstanding work on the vibraphone can be heard throughout the album) but also as an expert arranger. “His ideas, segues, choruses, and handling of [the] ensemble’s sections simply [sparkle],” praises Pablo Guzman in his liner notes.

Puente and his all-star Latin Ensemble infuse their magic touch into standards like Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” the Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields classic “Pick Yourself Up,” and Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” (made famous by Dave Brubeck). Their sublime rendition of “Lullaby of Birdland” features a cameo by the song’s composer, George Shearing, on piano. The album also includes a classic bolero, “No Pienses Así,” courtesy of legendary Cuban composer Pérez “Pepe” Delgado. Original compositions such as “China” and the joyful title track, which opens the album, round out the collection. Led by Pu