Horn-punctuated Latin rhythms

Two-time Latin Grammy Award-winning El Gran Combo, one of the world’s most popular Salsa bands for nearly five decades will be performing at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, June 10 and Saturday, June 11 at 8:00 p.m.

Their gold albums have included such hits as “Timbalero,” “Menú,” “Teléfono,” “Me liberé” and “Nadie como ella.”

Also featured on Friday will be trumpeter David Cedeño & his orchestra. On Saturday night, Colombian-born Salsa-son singer Nayibe “La Gitana” will also be featured. Both concerts are part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival.

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is on the campus of Lehman College/CUNY at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, N.Y. 10468. Lehman Center is accessible by #4 or D train to Bedford Park Blvd. and is off the Saw Mill River Parkway and the Major Deegan Expressway.

El Gran Combo, led by musical director and pianist Rafael Ithier, has been an institution in Puerto Rico’s musical history for more than four decades. Known for its horn-punctuated Latin rhythms, lush vocal harmonies and dynamic stage presence, the group has performed in every major arena around the globe.

Following the release of their first album, Acángana, in 1963, El Gran Combo packed Latin dance halls throughout New York City, including the Palladium Ballroom, the Manhattan Center and El Caborrojeño, evolving to fit Latin dance-music trends, from boogaloo and merengue to tango and bomba.

With multiple gold albums and a myriad of salsa hits, the group has received countless international awards and recognitions, including a 2002 Billboard Lifetime Achievement Award and two Latin Grammy Awards for Best Salsa Album – in 2003 for the live, two-CD 40 Aniversario and 2007 for Arroz Con Habichuela.

With their 50th Anniversary approaching, El Gran Combo’s latest CD – their 56th – is 2010’s Grammy Award-nominated “Sin Salsa No Hay Paraíso” (Sony Music/Latin), a collection of danceable arrangements which Descarga.com calls “a killer release that is nothing but pure salsa pleasure.”

David Cedeño, a New Jersey-born trumpeter, composer, arranger and bandleader, began performing at age 14. In 1996, he spent six months touring Japan, where his CDs were already a big hit. His albums are now distributed worldwide.

Nayibe “La Gitana,” born in Cali, Colombia, loved to sing as a child all the old Cuban sones, rumbas and boleros, especially those of her mother’s favorite artist, Celia Cruz, as well as the songs of Celina Rautilio “La India del Oriente” and “La Lupe.”

At age 18, Nayibe performed with the Mexican group La Sonora Latina and the Salvadorian group La Banda Ardiente. Her 2010 CD La Gitana was produced by Julio Castro of La Massacre and Ray Castro of Conjunto Clásico.

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