This evening I’m performing at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. It’s a beautiful day and we are doing the Tito Puente mambo for 10 000+ people. The festival is a tribute to my father this year, honoring his life, since it is fifteen years since his passing in a few weeks.

 

I am constantly working. My father did 300+ show a year, and I am covering that since his passing. I am 44 years old and I have been celebrating his legacy for fifteen years. People expect a lot of me. I am carrying the torch. I also hear of nepotism. I know that I can’t replace him. He took this music everywhere.  He wrote ‘’Oye Como Va’’ in a warehouse in Harlem, and it went everywhere.

 

Tito Puente and his Orchestra in 1981


The changes in the music industry have affected the Latin American music scene majorly. A lot of artists are struggling. Playing live is the way to push the music forward and seeing the acts live is really where it is. I bring a 10-piece orchestra and the audience need to bring their dancing shoes.

 

Puerto Rico means so much to me. My father represented the island and continues to do so in his afterlife. I love Puerto Rico for the food, the pretty women, the great music, the fantastic beaches. Its music, culture and history is something to be proud of.

 

I’m inspired by so many artists, and by more artists every day. If people could look into my iPod. I really adore Marc Anthony. Celia Cruz. The great music of yesterday. Larry Harlow. Giovanni Hidalgo.

 

Music is the essence of my soul. It’s how I breathe. I instill it in my children. I have a hard time associating myself with people who aren’t into music, because it touches souls in ways that other things can’t. I love everything from Mozart to Ellington, and I respect the blessed talent wherever I hear it.

 

Tito Puente Jr and his orchestra in concert in Brooklyn