El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, commonly known as El Gran Combo, is a Puerto Rican salsa orchestra based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2012, it is often considered Puerto Rico's most successful musical group. The group received the moniker La Universidad de la Salsa (The University of Salsa) in Colombia, due to the sheer number of famous salsa musicians and singers who developed their careers with it, who started with the group (particularly Andy Montañez), or who were occasionally backed up by the band and La India. The salsa orchestra was founded in May 1962, by Rafael Ithier. Ithier is still nominally its musical director, and is the only remaining members from the band's original lineup. As of 2010, Willie Sotelo, who joined the group in 2006 as pianist, has become the band's de facto musical director on tours, with Ithier conducting the group and playing occasionally in select live performances. They are still actively performing after 50 years together. The group was scheduled to celebrate its 50th anniversary on 11 November 2012 at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico. The group started its celebration with a grand world tour that took them to five continents.
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