The late Tito Puente made a few bucks last night. But more importantly, he would have been proud when Carlos Santana and his 10-piece band played a booming version of his ode to rhythm, “Oye Como Va,” which means “Listen to how my rhythm goes,” when you add the line “mi ritmo” after it.
I saw Tito Puente and his band at the Charles Ballroom in Harvard Square about 15 years ago. During that show he made a speech before playing that song, explaining how Santana made his song a hit and how at first he was a little angry and jealous, especially when audience members would say to him after his show, “you play Santana music.”
He said he used to argue with them and explain that he wrote that song and that Santana was playing Tito Puente music. “Until the royalty checks started rolling in. Now I tell them, ‘That’s right. I play Santana music!’,” he said right before his keyboardist started pounding on the opening chords to that song.
Santana is now an old master, but his chops on the guitar are as good as ever. Pure joy flows from it and he accentuates his guitar solos by offering the audience little treats: a few riffs of classic songs thrown into the mix.
Last night, those little treats included a few riffs from “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “I’m With the In Crowd,” and “Layla.” He doled out many more and the audience, dancing in the aisles, ate them up.