Tito Puente at the Madison Square Garden in 1985. Foto Javier Castaño

It’s been almost 10 years since the passing of one our country’s greatest multi talented musicians, the great El Rey—Tito Puente, but his music and memory are being kept alive by Joe Conzo, Sr., Ramon Rodriguez, Director of Harbor Conservatory’s Latin Music Program and Codigo Records with their new release of the complete Tito Puente TICO 78s and Tito Puente El Rey. To learn more about the maestro’s enduring love for Harbor Conservatory– the leading school for Latin Music and his great friend Joe Conzo’s memories of the man behind the music as told in his upcoming book “Mambo Diablo My Journey with Tito Puente”, and the new Codigo release– set your television sets for WABC Channel 7’s “Tiempo” scheduled for November 21st at 11:30 am. Hosted by Joe Torres, «Tiempo» is a weekly round-table discussion show about topics affecting and relating to Hispanic citizens.

A master timbalero, arranger, composer, bandleader, and proud son of East Harlem, Tito Puente cared deeply about education for young students and the need for youngsters to continue and/or begin their musical studies, as well as to reaffirm pride in Hispanic culture. Up until his death in 2000, The Conservatory was an annual recipient of Mr. Puente’s own scholarship Fund, and with permission from the Puente family we have continued the scholarship in his memory. The Tito Puente Scholarship Fund provides support for Latin percussion students as well as piano students through the Charlie Palmieri Memorial Scholarship which was established by Mr. Puente at the Harbor almost twenty years ago.

The Harbor’s Latin Music Program was designed to ensure the future of an art form truly unique to New York City that celebrates our country’s multi-cultural heritage. While its complexity and vibrancy have captivated audiences the world over, the music has been marginalized in this country for many years, along with its creators and their communities. Harbor Conservatory has taken Latin music into the Conservatory, developing formal curriculum to ensure that the knowledge and traditions are preserved and passed on to the next generation.

The leader of the Latin Music Program is Conservatory Director Ramon Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez, an accomplished musician, bandleader and music educator, received his BA from the Manhattan School of Music, and started as Director of Music at the Conservatory in l975. He has been honored by City Lore, People Magazine, Harlem is Music… and The NYS Arts Alliance, among others, for creating “a home for Latin music; and he is a 2005 Bank America Local Hero and a 2010 recipient of the Bobby Capό Life Time Achievement Award.

Joe Conzo, Sr. was Tito Puente’s publicist, confidant and archivist. From 1980 – 2002, he was the Chairman for the Tito Puente Scholarship Fund, producing numerous fundraising concerts and dances featuring such artists as Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Charlie and Eddie Palmieri, Art Blakely, Max Roach and others. He is a much in demand lecturer on the History of Latin Music and is considered the foremost expert on the life and music of Tito Puente, having spoken at Yale University, SUNY at Buffalo, New School for Social Research, among other institutions of Higher Learning. He served as a consultant on such projects as the Latin Tinge on WNET, with Beverly Sills, the naming of a US postage stamp honoring Tito Puente and served as compilation producer and writer of liner notes for countless recordings and CDs.  He is currently the Director of the Tito Puente Legacy Project at Hostos Community College, and the author of the forthcoming book Mambo Diablo My Journey with Tito Puente, written with David Perez.

Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts, a division of Boys & Girls Harbor is proud of its long-term history of celebrating the rich musical legacy of the Caribbean through individual and group instruction, special ensembles, public performances, master classes, and faculty and guest artist recitals. The goal of the Conservatory’s Latin Music Program is to foster the development of individuals to become well rounded, technically proficient, literate and creative musicians with an excellent understanding of basic Afro-Caribbean folkloric and popular rhythms and musical styles, and knowledge of the music’s history and seminal artists.  To learn more please visit us at www.harborconservatory.org

Boys & Girls Harbor was founded in 1937, when Anthony Duke, Sr. inspired by his work as a summer counselor, gathered a few of his friends and started an innovative summer camp for disadvantaged immigrant children.  Today, under the leadership of Dr. Thomas Howard the Harbor is an exceptional multi-service youth agency with a history of providing high quality academic and performing arts education and personal development for more than 2,000 children coming from East Harlem, Harlem and the South Bronx annually. The Conservatory’s Latin Music Program and Raices Latin Music Museum, represent the Harbor’s commitment to celebrating the Latino culture of its surrounding East Harlem community. For further information visit the Harbor’s website at http://www.theharbor.org.

Harbor Conservatory is the first New York City member school of the Berklee City Music Network and a recipient of the NAMM Foundation.