I always dismissed Tito Puente as a sort of kitchy light music that become hip soley becasue of the lounge craze, not to be taken seriously. But about 10 years ago Mrs Slack was on a Tito kick and picked up several TP CDs and i was floored at how damn strong the songs were. I've been a fan ever since and felt a little bad that I had dismissed him before giving the grooves a fair shake.
And I'll second BP- that "Take Five" really swings!
Slack, for some reason I've always had a taste for salsa music* and it was only amplified by the couple of years I spent in Miami, where most of my friends and co-workers were Cuban or Dominican, and Tito was always serious business. When i was a college freshman, he played a free show at the Amsterdam Avenue Street fair on 81st street that drew a huge crowd. When he played 'Oye Como Va,' ...well, lets just say I've never seen a crowd undulate as one like that before or since.
*I won't say 'Latin Music.' That's a white people's term. Salsa and Merengue have about as much in common with Mexican music or Argentinian tango as hip-hop does with country or big band jazz. Just because it's in the same language dosen't mean it's the same stuff.
Great story from my Miami days: the computer stor I worked at had a New Years Eve party, and during most of the night they played hip-hop and heavy metal, but as everybody got more lubed up, they dragged out the merengue records. When they did, my friend Marco drageed his sister out on the floor and danced up a storm. Me and Pips watched in amazement. I told him afterwords 'Wow, you can really cut a rug.' He shrugged with affected modesty, 'I am from Santo Domingo.'