- El Gran Combo – world’s greatest salsa group
El Gran Combo’s inception and first albums
Rafael Ithier is known as the founder of El Gran Combo who revealed a talent in music at a very early age. Maybe, he was inherited music talent from his dad who was music player as well. Rafael Ithier became a professional guitarist in the bolero genre. He had joined some groups before he formed El Gran Combo in 1962 which brought him a turning-point in his career.
In Nov 1963, the first album of El Gran Combo was published with the playful title Menéame Los Mangos or “Shake My Mango”. However, their third album – Acánagna released in 1964 became a number one hit in New York, Puerto Rico and Panama which brought them to the international recognition. The Album helped El Gran Combo open the big doors to some other markets in Latin America such as, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia…Besides, thanks to the hit album of Acánagna, they was performed exclusively on the Puerto Rican television show El Show de las 12. In 967, EL Gran Combo’s album – Boogaloo con el Gran Combo reached gold status after the first gaining of Acánagna in 1963.
In 1960s can be considered as the decade of changes, when the group welcomed new members who was Elías Lopes – a trumpet player and arrange in 1954; and the disband of Roena and Lopes in 1969. However, 1970 is a bad time of the group as their contract with Gema Records was not renewed. In 1972, the group published a new album “Por el Libro”, which marked the 10th anniversary of the group. In 1973, El Gran Combo had a big show in New York city when they sang in front of 50,000 fans at the famous Yankee Stadium.
Until now, the group has taken music all over the world from their mother land to North America, to Europe, Asia and Australia or even, they visited Alaska in 1984 in the promotion of their Grammy campaign for album “Breaking the ice”. After rise and fall, the brand has seen some leaves of the formers as well as participation of new members, now there are only 16 members in El Gran Combo. However, they still has been achieved many successes. Until 2006, El Gran Combo has published about 40 albums or CD and they have received many awards including golden albums in Mexico, a “Golden Combo” in Colombia or an honorable distinction in Spain. In particular, in 2007, they played two big concerts at the Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in their 45th anniversary.
Reviews of El Gran Combo fan
J.P from Las Vegas: I bought a CD at a shop near my home some years ago. I could not understand what all the music about with EL Gran Combo. I then listened to it few times and fell in love with them which has become one of my favorite groups and I listen almost everyday. I think for many people they can be surreal to learn about the group like El Gran Combo because, they are so attached to the totems of pop, rap, rock and roll or other genres…However, El Grando Combo is the best for me and they deserves a full 5 stars.
Manolin from Toronto: it may sound strange but I really feel crazy at watching and listening to this group. In my opinion this group is a rare gem in Latin music. For the former members, I really love Andy Montanez, but now is Anthony Garcia. From what I have listened so far, it is obvious that I will recommend my friends to attach this orchestra. I always support them and surely buy CD’s as soon as they release new ones.
- Future projects of El Gran Combo
In Jan 2017, their leader Rafael Ithier, visited Vietnam. He has felt in love with the country which he said it was a beautiful country with delicious food and hospitable people. During his trip, he by chance met Mr Toan who is currently Marketing Director of Vietnam Original Travel (a Vietnam Travel Agency specializing in tours in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myamar; and event organizer as well) and currently.
In the Rafael Ithier’ blog, he reviewed about the trip in Vietnam which he spent many kinds comments about it. Also, he did not forget describing the beauty of Vietnam and what places he visited and what impressed him. He mentioned:
“Vietnam is a very unique country. Although the country is not quite big, it has a wide range of terrains, stunning landscape and rich in culture and custom. Besides, the country varies in ethnic minorities, languages and cuisines. Vietnamese is very friendly, hospitable and optimistic. The locals are very proud of their long glorious history and diversified culture with 54 ethnic minorities. The country is in the shape of “S” covered by the East Sea to the East spreading from the North to South. There are many wonderful destinations such as, Halong Bay, Hanoi, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Saigon, Mekong Delta and Phu Quoc island.
Rafael Ithier also advised those who want to travel to Vietnam that:
“The country is not very big but in order to discover it thoroughly, you should book a tour from a reliable Vietnam Travel Agency and Vietnam Original Travel is a case. By searching via Google with the key “Vietnam tour packages” we can find many agencies. Pick up some agencies at the top of Google which are trustworthy.”
After the trip, Rafael Ithier has fallen in love with Vietnam so he really wants to open a live Salsa show here. He and Vietnam Original Travel have signed a contract that they will do a show in Vietnam in the near future. As Rafael said, Salsa music is still very new for Vietnamese, but he has seen a prospect for Salsa music here.
Words from Marketing Director about the cooperation with El Gran Combo
As you know, Vietnam is a very beautiful country with hospitable and optimistic people. Vietnamese really loves music so there are many singing programs on TV shows or at any festivals. Even though, you can see farmers on the fields enjoy life by singing although their farming is very hard. Vietnamese music is a harmonious combination of native and foreign influences. Specifically, recent years the Vietnamese entertainment industry has very developed and there have been many international type of foreign music introduced such as, Pop, Rock and heavy metal…Salsa music is still new in Vietnam and it is not quite popular. Therefore, we have invited El Gran Combo to Vietnam to open a show tours from the North to South Vietnam with the hope that Salsa music will be popular in the near future. And we really excited for the cooperation. I am sure that El Gran Combo will be welcomed warmly in Vietnam. If you all love the group; do not forget checking their show plan in Vietnam. There is a detailed schedule of tour from the North to Center and South Vietnam in our website.
On the other hand, through the cooperation with El Gran Combo, we hope that Vietnam tourism will be promoted and popularized at their home country – Puerto Rico and other beautiful in America Latin countries in which the group is really loved by a lot people. If you all would like to travel to Vietnam in the near future, let’s check our Vietnam tour packages or just customize your tour to have the most suitable trip in Vietnam. Thank you and look forward to the shows and see you all in Vietnam.