November 27, 1997 12:00 AM

Bandleader Tito Puente, 77, recently treated for a heart problem, died Wednesday in a New York hospital. The mambo performer helped popularize Latin music in the U.S. Only last February he won his fifth Grammy, for traditional tropical Latin performance. His album — one of more than 100 he recorded over a five-decade career — was titled “Mambo Birdland.”

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