The Record Collection

Tito Puente: Top Percussion (1957)

RCA Victor LSP 1617

Track list:

01 – Elequana
02 – Bragada
03 – Obatala Yeza
04 – Alaumba Chemache
05 – Oguere Madeo
06 – Obaricoso
07 – Four By Two (Part 1)
08 – Conga Alegre
09 – Ti Mon Bo
10 – Mon-Ti
11 – Hot Timbales


Tito Puente – Timbales
Marcelino Guerra, El Viejo Macucho, Mercedita, Julio Collazo – Vocals
Francisco Aguabella, Willie Bobo, Enrique Marti, Mongo Santamaria, Julio Collazo – Percussion
Marty Holmes – Tenor Sax
Allen Fields, Gene Quill – Alto Sax
Joe Grimm – Baritone Sax
Jimmy Frisaura, John Frosk, Doc Severinsen, Francis Williams, Gene Rapetti – Trumpet
Bob Ascher, Eddie Bert, Sonny Russo – Trombone
Barry Galbraith – Guitar
Alvin Gellers – Piano
Eraristo Baro, Bobby Rodriguez – Bass
Jimmy Cobb – Drums

Recorded on July 29, 1957 in New York City

New York born, Puerto Rican-American Tito Puente is at his peak here, living up to his title as “El Rey Del Timbal.”

Joining him are master Cuban percussionists Mongo Santamaria, Francisco Aguabella, Julito Collazo and the late American born Willie Bobo.

Each of these artists are legends in their own right. On Top Percussion they are all young, in their prime, and hot!
Puente created two distinct parts to this record.

One half consists of Afro-Cuban folkloric percussion with call and response singing, and the other features the heart of the latin bands rhythm section: congas, bongos, timbales and string bass.

On the first six cuts Julito Collazo and Francisco Aguabella demonstrate their expertise in the sacred music of the Lucumi (Yoruba in Cuba).

We hear Bembe, Guiro and Iyesa.

Collazo plays exquisite chekere and sings the lead on “Eleguara,” “Bragada,” “Oguere Madeo” and “Obaricoso.”

Aguabella sings lead on “Obatala Yeza” and “Alaumba Chemaché.”

These two also took a few artistic liberties within the traditional musical forms.

For instance, on “Obatala Yeza” there’s a Iyesa lead drum being played as well as a lead Bata drum(lya).

Aguabella plays the Iyesa lead taking turns improvising with Collazo, who’s playing the lead Bata drum part.
“Conga Alegre” is a Comparsa. This is the music that’s played in the streets during the time of Carnaval; a sort of Cuban Samba.

The smoking quinto heard on this cut is played by Mongo Santamaria.


“Four by Two” and “Hot Timbales” are a couple of unique compositions that feature the timbales.

The intensity is almost too much to bear.

“Mon Ti” is a five minute timbale solo by Puente with Mongo holding down the bottom on congas.

“Ti Mon Bo” is a moderately slow number featuring Tito on timbales, Mongo on congas and Willie on bongos.

Willie Bobo made a name for himself as a timbale player, but on this cut he shows what a gifted bongo player he is as well.
— via orgyinrhythm