Baile Con Tito Puente Baile-Bamba Baile-Samba Baile-Mambo Dancers go, go, go--- Have merengue, will travel across the night club floor you might be making people Cha-cha-cha to music in Chicago or Mexico City, San Juan or Honolulu, far from your training grounds of The Palladium Theater in New York, where going to the top meant raining on your timbales four times a week a thunderous danceable storm. It was after music studies in Cuba that you joined other masters of the urban Afro-Latino-Caribeño sound, matching beat-for-beat energy with the leaders: Mario Banza, Novo Morales and, of course, Frank “Machito” Guillo to perform before Blacks, Latinos, and Whites who would venture into the night, swayed by the power inside your Puerto Rican decorated drums, sizzling salsa compositions transforming live audiences across the world’s seven continents. Since you were a boy, your guaguanco spirit has been burning and churning your rhythmic hands, expressed on the side of an empty coffee can, or across the bridge connecting to Manhattan, helping you become the “King of the drums” whom we have loved for a weekend or for all of fifty years. Because of your commitment to music, beating praises for bamba-samba, and the mambo Katapán-tum, Katapán-tum, Ti-to Ti-to Puen-te, making powerful party music for half a century, whenever a bembe-slapping conga meets you Tito, an island sun shines in every Puerto Rican soul.
Carlos Cumpián a Chicagoan originally from Texas. Human Cicada (Prickly Pear Publishing) marks his fifth poetry collection: Coyote Sun (March Abrazo Press), Latino Rainbow (Children’s Press/Scholastic Books) Armadillo Charm (Tia Chucha Press), and 14 Abriles: Poems. In 2000, he was recognized with a Gwendolyn Brooks Significant Illinois Poet Award. Cumpián has been included in more than thirty poetry anthologies, including the Norton Anthology Telling Stories. Before becoming a teacher, he worked with various social service organizations such as ASPIRA and public relations for the Chicago Public Library.