Eguie Castrillo: The Mambo Kings Concert at Berklee


This post is also available in: Español

Master percussionist Eguie Castrillo will commemorate the centenaries of Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez with the concert “The Mambo Kings – 100 Years” on April 6 at Berklee College of Music. Special guests include Gilberto Santa Rosa and John “Dandy” Rodriguez.

The Mambo Kings – 100 Years Concert

This year we celebrate the centenaries of two Mambo Kings; Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez. Berklee professor of Latin rhythms, Eguie Castrillo, played with Tito Puente who became his mentor and friend. So for this event, Castrillo will take us back to the times of the Palladium by performing with his big band some of the best songs of these two legends of Latin music.

Eguie Castrillo with Tito Puente
Berklee’s Eguie Castrillo with Tito Puente.

The event will have two special guests. Castrillo’s high school friend Gilberto Santa Rosa will be the singer for the event. Castrillo told me via phone, “when last year I thought about putting together this concert, the first phone call I made was to Gilberto Santa Rosa. There isn’t a singer that can sing the Tito Rodriguez repertoire better than Gilberto. He immediately said yes.” Castrillo considers Santa Rosa the best singer of Salsa music. “He will be here to sing the songs of Tito Rodriguez and Tito Puente, not the songs of his ‘Camínalo’ tour“, he clarified.

The other special guest is bongo player John “Dandy” Rodriguez. “John played with Tito Puente back in 1963. His first recording was “Exitante Ritmo de Tito Puente / The Exciting Rhythm of Tito Puente”. Imagine that as a teenager your first recording is with Tito Puente“, Eguie pointed out. “Then a couple of years later, he toured with Tito Rodriguez“, he continued. “We’re going to play music where Dandy was part of the original recordings. It’s a pleasure to be playing with someone like him sitting next to me.

The Music, Musicians, and More

Eguie Castrillo has been paying musical homage to the Mambo Kings for several years. Those projects include the 2013 “Mambo Mania” concert at Carnegie Hall, which also had Gilberto Santa Rosa as an invited artist, and the “Palladium Tradition” album, with songs from Puente, Rodriguez, and Machito.

The songs for “The Mambo Kings – 100 Years” concert will come from this repertoire and form albums like Tito Puente’s “Exitante Ritmo” mentioned above.

Castrillo has been collecting the song arrangements through the various musical homages he produced through the years. “I have some arrangements that were done by (Puerto Rican jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and arranger) Humberto Ramirez; had a recent one transcribed by Quique Talavera, and I even have a copy of a Tito Rodriguez original sheet music.“, Eguie commented.

The big band which will consist of around 18 musicians will play approximately 13 to 14 songs, with an approximate duration of two hours. The event is targeted at the Berklee community, but it is open to the public for only $20.

Marimba donation by Puente’s Family

During the event, the Puente family will donate an original Tito Puente marimba to Berklee College of Music. This is a result of negotiations with Puente’s family, particularly with Ronnie Puente’s help. Immediately after the donation ceremony, the marimba will be played by a Berklee student on the song that follows.

“The Mambo Kings – 100 Years” promises to be a memorable evening.

You might also like

Leave a Comment or Reply