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PR Newswire

Star-Studded Tribute Gala To Honor The Life, Legend And Music Of 'The Real Mambo King' Tito Puente

March 25, 2003
Copyright © 2003
PR Newswire. All rights reserved. 

Rums of Puerto Rico Presents a Concert Tribute Event Featuring Jimmy Smits and Freddy Rodriguez Among Others

NEW YORK - The late, great jazz legend Tito Puente will be honored April 21 at the highly anticipated concert event "Rums of Puerto Rico Presents: Viva Puente, A Tribute to the Real Mambo King." The two-hour gala will be held one day after Puente would have turned 80, 8 p.m.-10 p.m., at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center. The event kicks off a nationwide tribute tour, all of which will benefit the Ernest Puente Trust.

"It is truly an honor for me and my family to participate in a real and honest tribute to my father," says Tito Puente Jr. "Finally [there will be] a worthy tribute to a man who has crossed all borders of this earth with his music."


The star-studded show will be hosted by actor Jimmy Smits and Latin star Roselyn Sanchez, both of whom share Puente's Puerto Rican heritage. Ruben Blades is scheduled to headline the esteemed list of musicians and artists who will perform Puente songs or offer the audience anecdotes about the Five-Time Grammy Award Winner known worldwide as The Real Mambo King. Actor Freddy Rodriguez of the popular HBO series "Six Feet Under" is confirmed to appear, along with Jimmy Smits' wife and star of "CSI: Miami" Wanda de Jesus. The following entertainers are also scheduled to appear: Rosie Perez, Celia Cruz, Dave Valentin, Giovanni Hidalgo and Tito Puente Jr. Multiple Grammy winner Cucco Pena will conduct the orchestra and wrote a song in honor of the event, which all of the musicians will gather on stage and sing at the end of the show. A taped broadcast is scheduled to air on New York's local NBC affiliate three weeks after the event, and may also appear on Telemundo and Bravo at later dates.

"Rums of Puerto Rico is proud to present Viva Puente, a tribute event that honors one of America's biggest jazz legends," says Dina Albanese, director of Rums of Puerto Rico. "We look forward to performances from our lineup of esteemed musicians, whose careers thrive in today's music scene, largely in part to Tito Puente's legacy."


Viva Puente will benefit the Ernest Puente Trust, with a portion of ticket sales to provide scholarships for disadvantaged youth pursuing music careers. A limited amount of tickets for this exclusive event will be available via the Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center Box Office beginning Wednesday, March 26, 2003. Tickets are also available by calling 212-721-6500 or visiting Puente fans are urged to purchase tickets immediately, as tickets are expected to sell-out quickly.

"The Ernest Puente Trust continues my husband's musical legacy by affording aspiring musicians the opportunity to study and hone their skills," says Mrs. Margie Puente. "The Puente Family wishes to thank Rums of Puerto Rico and the other sponsors of 'Viva Puente' for helping us in this endeavor."


Following the kick-off Gala, the "Rums of Puerto Rico Presents: Viva Puente, A Tribute to the Real Mambo King" will tour U.S. cities during 2003. The nationwide concert tributes will take place at small music theaters and feature local Jazz musicians and special surprise guests playing Tito Puente's music. Visit for more information on Viva Puente tour dates, venues and tickets.


Puente was honored with a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Grammy Awards held in New York, his fifth Grammy. The Latin jazz legend died in May, 2000, at the age of 77, after touring 100 countries and recording 116 albums in his lifetime. He played timbales, vibraphone, piano, congas, bongos and saxophone in addition to arranging and composing music. Puente's most famous songs include "Oye Como Va," "Ran Can Can," "Bolero," "Pa' Los Rumberos," and "El Rey Del Timbal." Puente is credited with being the first Latin musician whose appeal truly crossed-over to American popular music, setting the stage for artists of today such as Mark Anthony and Ricky Martin.

"I worked with Tito on many occasions and shared the stage with him a few other times," says celebrated Latin singer Ruben Blades. "He always treated me with affection and respect."


Rums of Puerto Rico is the proud presenter and promoter of the "Viva Puente, A Tribute to the Real Mambo King" concert tribute. Puente, whose parents were both born in Puerto Rico, split his time between homes in New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico, during his lifetime. The artist exhibited intense pride for his roots during his career, frequently displaying the Puerto Rican flag within his concert wardrobe and once proclaiming his life's wish was to plant the Puerto Rican Flag on the moon.


Puerto Rico has been producing superior rums for 500 years, and today is responsible for 75 percent of all rums sold in the U.S. A wide variety of rum brands bear the label "Puerto Rican Rum," ensuring versatile taste and superior quality, including; Bacardi, Captain Morgan, Barrilito, Don Q, Palo Viejo, Ron Llave and Ron Bocoy. Recognizing that quality is the key to producing the world's finest rums, Puerto Rico established a law in 1948 making it the only rum producer to require all rums be aged for at least one year. Rums of Puerto Rico, a government agency created in 1948, is responsible for promoting the sale of all rum shipped from Puerto Rico to the United States.

CONTACT: Jennifer Berk, +1-312-297-7405,, or Erin Houchin, +1-312-233-1364,, both of Edelman for Rums of Puerto Rico Rums of Puerto Rico

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