Spanish Harlem, 1930. Seven-year-old Tito Puente smacks a pot with a wooden spoon, slaps the windowsill, and makes a crude yet funky beat. A neighbor lady screams, “Ay, niña, shut that kid up!” But his mom knows better, that one day he will be the king of the timbales — a Cuban drum invention that’s usually high-tuned, metal-cased, and played somewhat like snares, standing up, with sticks — so she signs him up for 25-cent music lessons. In the year 2000, after 50 albums as a bandleader, five Grammys, and more fans than you can shake a hip at, Tito Puente is the king, and he passes away after a show in Puerto Rico.
That’s when his son Tito Puente Jr. steps into his dancing shoes and makes sure the beat lives on by playing festival, corporate, and even daytime soap stages around the world. This Friday at the MOCA Plaza (770 NE 125th St., North Miami), the rhythm hits North Miami at 7 p.m. with Tito Puente Jr. and His Latin Jazz ensemble playing free till 10 p.m. for South Florida’s longest-running free outdoor jazz concert... More >>>