[JPL] Luis Kant: Former Ella & Tjader sideman RIP

Al Karia jctrane at gmail.com
Mon Apr 24 15:03:23 EDT 2006

thnx for this information

On 4/24/06, Arturo <arturo893 at qwest.net> wrote:
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> Master percussionist/musician/dancer Luis Kant passed away in Las
> Vegas on April 10, 2006.  Luis's credits include Myrta Silva, Celia Cruz,
> Willie Bobo, Cal Tjader, Tito Puente, Rene Bloch, Johnny Martinez,
> Ella Fitgerald, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra,
> Sarah Vaughan, etc. He recently discovered he is a great, great, great
> grandnephew of German philosopher Emmanuel Kant & Luis felt his highest
> honor was daughter Renee Kant, grandchildren Issa & Paris Sida-Kant,
> & great grandchild Hazel Sida-Kant.
> The following is a 1998 article by Silvio Alava on Luis's brilliant life.
> Arturo Gómez
> Latin Beat Magazine contributor
> Where are they now - Luis 'Puntilla' Kant,
> Luis 'Puntilla' Kant, Panamenian musician
> Latin Beat Magazine,  March, 1998  by Silvio H. Alava
> "The Golden Era" of Latin music in New York began around the '30s
> and gained momentum as an art form right up until the present. When
> Tito Puente, Machito, ad Tito Rodríguez were sidemen working with
> other bands, a Panamanian by the name of Luis Kant,
> aka "Puntillita," arrived in New York City to begin his career. The
> nickname was given to him by the noted New York promoter Federico
> Pagani. A native of the barrio Chorrillo, which was also the home of
> the pugilist Roberto Duran and Ruben Blades, Sr. (the father of
> Ruben Blades), Kant became interested in singing at the age of
> twelve. With his good friend Luis Muñoz on piano, he began honing
> his singing skills and learned the repertoire of many of the local
> and visiting singers of the late '30s and early '40s. Self taught on
> maracas, he later learned to play them from Ernesto Chapuseau, of
> the famous merengue duo Damiron y Chapuseau. He learned to play
> clave from Cuban musicians who arrived in Panama to work. The local
> hotels and nightclubs were popular places for musicians with
> plentiful work and an atmosphere that catered to servicemen passing
> through on their way to military duty. He learned to play bongos
> from Ruben Blades Sr. who was not a working musician but
> nevertheless an excellent bongocero. Mr. Blades' primary occupation
> was that of a basketball player, and according to Puntillita, Blades
> excelled at it. His friendship with Miguelito Valdés enabled him to
> leave Panama as a member of Myrta Silva's group. Miguelito advised
> him that he was wasting his time in Panama and spoke to Ms. Silva to
> take Kant on tour with her show. Myrta approached Puntillita's
> mother to ask her permission to take Luis on tour and on April 17,
> 1946, Luis Kant left Panama. The tour traveled to Costa Rica,
> Guatemala, Mexico, and Cuba. During the month that he stayed in
> Cuba, he learned the basics of playing conga from
> Wilfredo "Chonguito" Hernández, and from Chano Pozo, he learned the
> technique of playing three congas, a style of playing that Kant
> would use later in his career in shows in New York and Los Angeles.
> Miami was the next stop and eventually they arrived in New York
> City, where he found work with Joe Blanco, playing in the mountain
> resorts. The list of groups that Puntillita worked with in New York
> reads like a who's who of Latin Music: Antonio Tain, Luis Barreto,
> Moncho Usera, Juanito Sanabria, Alberto Iznaga, Enrique Madriguera,
> Ralph Font, José Curbelo, Julio Andino, Pupi Campo, Joe Loco, Luis
> Varona, Fausto Curbelo, The Lecuona Cuban Boys, Esy Morales, René
> Touzet, Noro Morales, Tito Puente, Charlie Palmieri, Desi Arnaz,
> Dizzy Gillespie, Lalo Shiffrin, and Eddie Cano. In 1953, Luis left
> New York for the West Coast with Joe Loco and when the tour ended,
> he returned to New York and formed his own group. Now on his own, he
> signed a contract to play at the grand opening of the New Frontier
> Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. When Mario Lanza, the headliner of
> the show became sick, he was replaced with Judy Garland. The
> contract was for four weeks but was extended for twelve. While in
> Las Vegas, he renewed his friendships with many of the big stars
> that frequented Bill Miller's Riviera in New Jersey. After leaving
> Las Vegas, he went with his group to San Francisco. The group
> disbanded due to lack of work, but fortunately, Cal Tjader offered
> him a job playing congas because Luis Miranda was preparing to
> leave. He stayed with Tjader for a while until he became sick with
> the Aiatic flu and was replaced by Mongo Santamaría and Willie Bobo.
> After his recovery he went to Los Angeles and worked with René
> Block, George Hernández, Eddie Cano, and Manny López. Kant became
> ill with a collapse lung and when he was well enough to travel he
> returned to Las Vegas and worked in many of the house bands that
> provided the music for the big headliners like Debie Reynolds, Tony
> Martin, Cyd Charise, Dick Haymes, Frankie Avalon, Johnny Mathis,
> Lena Horne, Abbey Lane and Barbara Eden. He became a member of Tony
> Martin's show and traveled extensively throughout the world singing
> and playing percussion. In 1973, as member of Tony Martin's group,
> Kant played a command performance at The White House at the
> invitation of President Richard Nixon, honoring The Shah and Empress
> of Iran. Around 1980, the shows in Las Vegas began to use taped
> music to cut the expense of hiring musicians and the work came to a
> standstill. It was then that Luis Kant retired as a musician and
> became a card dealer at the Flamingo Casino until his final
> retirement in 1994. He has worked for some of the most notable music
> makers and stage personalities that the U.S. has produced, but the
> experience he treasures the most is the friendship, camaraderie, and
> musical knowledge that he received from Tito Puente. From his humble
> occupation as a shoeshine and paper boy in the barrio of Chorillo,
> Panama, Luis "Puntillita" Kant never dreamed he would have a career
> as fulfilling as the one he has lived. He now free-lances as a
> singer and percussionist, doing the work he has loved since he was a
> youth.
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