El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico is Puerto Rico’s most successful musical group, and “the most popular Salsa group that has ever existed.”
The band formed in 1962 from the remnants of Cortijo’s Combo starting Rafael Cortijo and Ismael Rivera. Cortijo and Rivera put Bomba Síca rhythms into La Salsa. This is as Puerto Rican as it gets. You can hear it. Gran Combo’s sound is Island Puerto Rican, not New York Puerto Rican.
Caribbean culture has a tradition of naughty lyrics expressed in a soft, almost quaint way. Gran Combo’s lyrics are clean, but filled with double meaning, especially food. For example, “Azuquita Pa’l Cafe” describes something more explicit than a little milk for coffee. LOL.
- El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico celebrates 60 years of Puerto Rican Salsa at Kupferberg Center at Queens College in Flushing, Queens on Friday, October 7, 2022 at 8pm. From $59. 🇵🇷
- El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico celebrates 60 years of Puerto Rican Salsa at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday, October 8 at 8pm. From $49. 🇵🇷
We saw them El Gran Combo at Club Vivo in Carolina, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wow, we couldn’t stop dancing.
El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico is the most popular Salsa band ever
The orchestra was founded in 1962 by Rafael Ithier. He is still around as honorary music director.
A lot of famous Salseros were part of the band over the years. Ismael Rivera, Roberto Roena, Andy Montañez, Charlie Aponte, Jerry Rivas, and many more. So many great artists have been part of the band that the Colombians call it “La Universidad de la Salsa” (The Salsa University).
El Gran Combo’s first album was Menéame los mangos (Shake My Mango 1963). Their third album Acángana (1964) opened doors for the band when it went No. 1 in New York, Puerto Rico, and Panama. The band got their own television show in Puerto Rico El Show de las 12.
The band opened for the FANIA All-Stars at the legendary 1973 concert at Yankee Stadium.
El Gran Combo is still going strong. For New York there is nothing like la Salsa de Puerto Rico.
Previous NYC Shows
El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Grupo Niche and India play Salsa at Radio City Music Hall on Sat, Feb 12 at 8pm. This is some of the best Puerto Rican, Colombian and New York Salsa. From $96. 🇵🇷🇨🇴
El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico plays the season finale of the Salsa at Orchard Beach party in Pelham Bay Park, The Bronx on Sun, Sep 5, 2021 from 11am – 7pm. Free with registration at eventbrite.com. The show includes Oro Sólido merengue, Judy Torres freestyle rap, Johnnie Rodriguez & the Dream Team salsa and more. 🇵🇷
October 2, 2020 ~ El Gran Combo plays the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, New Jersey at 8pm.
Saturday, April 11, 2020 ~ El Gran Combo plays classic Puerto Rican salsa at the Ritz Theatre in Elizabeth, New Jersey at 8pm. From $45
Sunday, March 8, 2020 ~ El Gran Combo plays classic Puerto Rican salsa at Sony Hall in the Times Square Theater District at 7pm. Tickets from $30
Saturday, February 15, 2020 ~ The band is joined by Jerry Rivera (Cara de Niño, 1993) and Tito Nieves (I Like it Like That, 1996) for a night of the best Puerto Rican salsa at Radio City Music Hall in Midtown, NYC at 8pm. From $96
Thursday, April 26, 2018 ~ The band plays B.B. King Blues Club’s closing week with Eddie Palmieri in Midtown, Manhattan at 8 pm. $69 – $125
Sunday, September 3, 2017 ~ The band plays the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk at 7pm. $35 – $134