Tito Puente Jr. and his Latin Jazz Band at Danbury Palace

April 17, 2017

Tito Puente Jr. and his Latin Jazz Band are coming to shake things up at the Palace Danbury on Saturday, April 22, with the sounds of salsa, merengue, mambo and more.

Puente Jr. is the son of the late Tito Puente, the 10-time Grammy-winning bandleader and legendary goodwill ambassador of Latin music. A talented percussionist like his dad, Puente Jr. is making sure new generations get to experience the magic of that music.

Born and raised in New York City, Puente Jr. has performed around the globe. When not touring, he lives with his wife and children in Florida. He spoke about his life and music via email.

Q: What was it like growing up with Tito Puente as your father, and did you ever consider a career in something other than music?

A: I always had a fascination with forensics and heavy metal music. Go figure! I played the trap drum set at first and was in a heavy metal band, which I am proud of, called Monoxide. My father didn’t care for the sound or style of rock we were playing, but he did get a kick out of it when we performed. I traveled abroad with my dad, and that’s when that sound of “the clave” rhythm caught me. Then I started listening a lot closer to what he was playing, and gravitated toward the Latin sound.

Q: What can folks expect at the Palace Danbury?

A: I always encourage everyone to enjoy themselves and to forget about life for two hours. Expect to be transported to the mambo era of the 1950s, into the music of the great Tito Puente and almost a timeline of his career. I also perform some originals. I always have the most incredible musicians, so you will be entertained with the magic of Latin music. I explain each and every song, and the nine-piece orchestra will perform exciting numbers (no ballads), so expect to not sit down for long, since the rhythm will make you dance.

Q: You played “Oye Como Va” on “Dancing With the Stars.” What sticks in your mind most about that, and would you consider dancing on the show if asked?

A: What a thrill to be a part of a great show. And (dancer) Cheryl Burke is a great person, friend and fan of my music. It was an honor to be involved. Yes, they asked if I could be a contestant, but I have two left feet and would do horribly, to be honest. I’ll just stick to the music end and let those great dancers keep entertaining.

Q: Why are you so passionate about carrying on your father’s work?

A: This music is timeless. My passion is deep within my soul to continue his legacy and make sure the youth of today remembers where and who this music comes from. The drive of performing, as well, makes this journey really fun, and it’s exciting to see new places around the globe.

lkoonz@newstimes.com; Twitter: @LindaTKoonz