El Combo Más Grande

November Playlist Highlights

Song (iTunes)




Buena O Mala El Gran Combo Salsa Puerto Rico
Mas Feo Que Yo El Gran Combo Salsa Puerto Rico
Acangana El Gran Combo Salsa Puerto Rico
Compadre Pedro Juan El Gran Combo Merengue Puerto Rico
Chua Chua Boogaloo El Gran Combo Boogaloo Puerto Rico
Timbamania Mayimbe Timba Cuba
Mátame Anthony Santos Bachata D. Republic
My Way Henry Santos Bachata D. Republic
Ole y Ole Milly Quezada Merengue D. Republic
So Na Natal Loony Johnson Kizomba Portugal


Salsa of Puerto Rico – El Gran Combo

When it comes to the music of Puerto Rico one of the genres that has been the most popular and the most commercially successful is salsa.  And when it comes to Puerto Rican salsa and the artists making this music the most popular and commercially successful is unquestionably El Gran Combo.   So successful has the group been both locally and internationally that any serious discussion on the topic of salsa would be incomplete without mentioning them.

El Gran Combo of Puerto Rico or simply El Gran Combo was created by Rafael Ithier back in 1962.  Before then Ithier had been a member of a group lead by Rafeal Cortijo called Cortijo y su Combo whose leader singer was none other than Ismael Rivera.  Sadly, Cortijo’s group suffered a huge loss when Rivera was incarcerated for drug related offences in the early 60’s.  The group eventually broke up and Ithier took the opportunity to form his own band with some of the members of the original Combo. When he first brought his musicians together it was suggested the band be called Rafael Ithier y su Combo.   Ithier agreed the band’s name should reflect the fact that it had come from Cortijo’s.  However, he wanted the name to communicate that his band was new and improved and that his Combo was grander than any of it’s predecessors and thus El Gran Combo was born.

Their first album was released on November 20, 1963 with the playful title Menéame Los Mangos or “Shake My Mangos”.  But it was their third album, Acángana, released in 1964 that really got them international recognition.  Acángana was a hit from New York to Panama and opened the doors for El Gran Combo in a number of other Latin American markets.  Many other successful albums followed including a gold selling boogaloo album from 1967 called “Boogaloo con el Gran Combo”.

The band has taken their music all over the world from Europe to Japan to Australia and even a visit to Alaska in 1984 as part of the promotion for their first grammy nominated album “Breaking the Ice”.  In total El Gran Combo has produced over 60 albums, is arguably Puerto Rico’s most successful musical group and is considered by some to be the most popular salsa group of all time.  The band is also referred to as “La Universidad de la Salsa” because of the number of famous musicians that have either been members or who have performed with the group:  Andy Montañez, Roberto Roena, Celiz Cruz, La India, Hector Lavoe, Ruben Blades, and others.

It has been over half a century since the inception of El Gran Combo and with that it mind it should come as no surprise that the band’s membership has changed significantly with with the only original member being Rafael Ithier himself.  Though he continues to perform he has taken a back seat for live performances and just conducting the musicians rather than playing the piano. However, he is still very much the leader of the group, a group that shows no signs of slowing down.  They released a new album in 2010 called Sin Salsa No Hay Paraíso or “There is no Paradise without Salsa” and did a world tour last year in celebration of their 50th anniversary.

50 years in the music industry has resulted in a lot of music and a lot of well known classics.  I have included a small sample of some of their lesser known songs in this months playlist.

That’s it for this month.  Questions, comments, requests? Send me an email

Hasta la próxima,


Timba From Peru

March Playlist Highlights






La Comision La Comision - Top 40 Cuban 2012 - Classic Cuba Chilled Bar Grooves El Muso y Su Gran Sonora Salsa Cuba
La Habana En Guanabacoa La Habana En Guanabacoa - Beginner's Guide To Timba Dan Den Salsa Cuba
Intro del Mayimbe Intro del Mayimbe - De La Habana a Peru Mayimbe Salsa Cuba
Si Tu No Vienes No Ba Si Tu No Vienes No Bailas - Edwin y Su Son Edwin Bonilla Salsa USA
Adicto a Tu Piel Adicto a Tu Piel (Salsa Version) - Independence Day Frankie Negron Salsa Puerto Rico
Acangana Acangana - El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico - 20 Aniversario (1962-1982 Historia Musical) El Gran Combo Salsa Puerto Rico
Olvidame Y Pega La Vuelta Olvidame y Pega la Vuelta - Amor de Tres Luna Llena Bachata Puerto Rico
Hello Hello (Album Version) - Hello (Album Version) - Single Berto La Voz Bachata Puerto Rico
Tu Sonrisa Tu Sonrisa - Suavemente Elvis Crespo Merengue Dominican Republic
Solo Quiero Amarte Solo Quiero Amarte (Feat. Pipe Calderon) - Solo Quiero Amarte (Feat. Pipe Calderon) - Single Vela Ft. Pipe Calderon Merengue Electronico Colombia
Puerto Padre Puerto Padre - Salsa World Series Volume 4 La Gua Gua Big Band Cha Cha Cha France


Who is Mayimbe

 I was recently in  California with the Salsaddiction Rueda Team for the San Francisco Salsa Festival.   It’s the largest Cuban Salsa festival in North America drawing  instructors, dancers and musicians from all parts of the globe.   The dancing and dance instruction at the event was incredible and the music even more so.  Timbalive and Manolin el Medico de la Salsa performed live as did some local musicians.  These bands were excellent but there was another  group that really caught my attention and it apparently caught the attention of other dancers and Djs.   Their music was playing in workshops, during the main dances and at the after parties.  The name of the band is Mayimbe.

Based in Lima, Peru and established in 2010 Mayimbe is an amazing  15 member Timba band led by 29 year old pianist and composer Barbaro (Barbarito) Fine Fortes from Havana, Cuba.  Before starting Mayimbe, Barbaro had been a pianist for a variety of Cuban groups including Charanga Forever, Salsa Mayor and Alain Daniel.   Besides Barbaro there are a few other Cuban musicians in the band.  However, many of the band members are Peruvian.  Apparently, Cuban music is very popular in Peru and Mayimbe has quickly become one of the most popular Timba bands in the country.

The group released its first album in 2011 entitled De Habana a Peru.  I have included one of their tracks in this month’s play list (Intro Del Mayimbe).  It  you like it I recommend checking out the entire album available on iTunes.  It is delicious.


Latin Music and Dance in Edmonton This Month

March is a happening month for Latin entertainment in Edmonton.  Besides the standard dance parties and socials that can be found every week there are some big names coming to town from the music and dance community.

  • March 2: Los Ex – Adolescentes Orquesta will be in town at the Sultan Banquet Hall (9248 34A ave).  The original Los Adolescentes was a Venezuelan salsa group made up of young Venezuelans.  The group was hugely popular in the 90s with hits like Hoy Aprendi and Arrepentida.  Ex-Adolecentes is made up of the singers from the original group and is backed by Orquesta Tropicana from Vancouver.  More details are available at fiestaval.ca.
  • March 22: Pitbull, aka Armando Christian Pérez, will be performing at Rexall as part of his PlanetPit World Tour.  Pitbull is a Cuban – America (he was born in the US to Cuban parents) artist who has taken the world by storm in the last couple of years.   His popularity and talent has allowed him to collaborate with an impressive number of artists including Marc Anthony (Rain Over Me),  Shakira (Rabiosa), and T-Pain and Sean Paul (Shake Senora).   I would describe his music as Latin pop with many songs sung in English, Spanish or both and despite the fact that most of his music is not the best for partner dancing you will occasionally hear his songs at OTR.  Tickets for the concert are available through TicketMaster.
  •  March 30-April 1: Duane Wrenn of Energetic Soul will be in Edmonton teaching some amazing salsa workshops.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to take one of Duane’s classes  I highly recommend you check him out.   He is fantastic salsa dancer but more importantly an excellent instructor and year after year Duane has been one of the most popular instructors at the San Francisco Salsa Festival.   He has taught Salsa all over North America and internationally and his unique  Soul-Sa teaching style is suitable for all ability levels.   Details about his Edmonton workshops will be available on the Salsaddiction website in the next week or two.  He will also be at the Salsaddiction Social on March 31.

Questions, comments requests?  Send me an email.

Hasta la próxima



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