Music

‘Oye Como Va’ King Of Latin Jazz, Tito Puente, Honored With Google Doodle Today

There’s little doubt the iconic Puerto Rican musician Tito Puente was a force of nature and a jazz music game-changer throughout his life—  so much so that Google decided to honor him with a special doodle today.

Puente wore many hats as a multi-instrument musician, songwriter and producer while injecting all sorts of magic into his hometown of New York City— and the world over.

The “King Of Latin Music” was famous for his mambos and his contributions to Latin jazz, working with countless other megastars including Celia Cruz and Carlos Santana.

Throughout his 50-year career, Puente composed legendary hits like “Oye Como Va,” “Ran Kan Kan,” and “Quimbara” drawing inspiration from his childhood in NYC’s Spanish Harlem. Of Puerto Rican descent, Puente was a bandleader and overall powerhouse, he played several instruments like the piano, saxophone, timbales, and more.

He studied at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music, and many saw the music star as a larger-than-life genius that made everyone just want to dance.

Now honored with a Google Doodle, the gesture commemorates U.S. Hispanic Heritage Month and the one-year anniversary of the debut of the Tito Puente Monument in East Harlem.

Google aptly chose New York-based Puerto Rican artist Carlos Aponte to make this fantastic doodle, which takes viewers on a ride through Puente’s concrete playground— all set to the thundering rhythms of “Ran Kan Kan.”

While the doodle is already excellent, one click takes you to a separate video that shows Puente on percussion, E. 110 St. lighting up, Spanish Harlem in the musician’s heyday, and even a few scenes showing him playing music while he served in the Navy during World War II.

Aponte sat down with Google to talk about the significance of the doodle to him. “Tito was part of my musical experience growing up in Puerto Rico. My aunt introduced me to Tito Puente via La Lupe, a famous singer in Puerto Rico and New York,” he explained.

The artist described the “Mambo Gozon” icon as “a Svengali for talents like Celia Cruz” and a “household name,” while also saying Puente was part of his “Puerto Rican soundtrack.”

“Love what you do, train, study, and be the best you can be. If you excel, everything else will fall into place. There are no shortcuts. Those who make it easily don’t last long,” he reflected when asked about what message he hopes people take away from his creation.

His “perfect example” of the philosophy is of course Puente himself, describing the performer as simply “the best.” 

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