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El Gran Combo has gone through numerous personnel changes, with only Ithier and alto saxophonist Eddie Perez remaining from the original group. Roena left in 1969 to form a new Roberta Roena y Su Apollo Sound, and vocalist Andy Montañez left to join Dimensión Latina in 1977. Trumpet player Taty Maldonado passed away in 1991. Despite the loss of talented musicians and singers, El Gran Combo has continued to evolve. They added a trombone player and third vocalist in 1991 and continue to feature top-notch vocalists, including Charlie Aponte, who joined in 1972, and Jerry Rivas, who replaced Montañez. In 2002, El Gran Combo featured vocalists Charlie Aponte, Jerry Rivas, and Papo Rosario, trombone players Victor Rodriguez and Moises Nogueras, saxophonist Freddy Miranda, bassist Fred Rivera, and the rhythm section of Miguel Torres on congas, Domingo Santos on timbales, and Mitchell Laboy on bongos.
In 2004, the revamped group issued Aquí Estamos y...¡De Verdad! to great critical acclaim and a place on the Latin Airplay charts. Two years later, they scored again with Arroz con Habichuela and the holiday set Asi Es Nuestro Navidad, fronted by Gilberto Santa Rosa. In 2008, their Combo label reissued seven classic albums from their catalog, while 2010's Salsa: Un Homenaje a el Gran Combo hit the number three spot at Top Latin Albums, and worked its way inside the Top 200. 2011's Sin Salsa No Hay Paraiso appeared on Sony proper and placed on the year-end Latin Albums charts and several others. The group celebrated a half-century together with 50 Aniversario, Vol. 1, their debut for EGC Records, with three-quarters of it comprising re-recorded songs from the band's storied career and reminiscences with Ithier and others. It placed inside the Top Ten at Top Latin Albums. The group continued to tour internationally to sold-out crowds in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. Vocalist Charlie Aponte retired and was replaced by Anthony Garcia for 2016's Alunizando. The change suited fans, as the album hit number four on the Top Latin Albums chart. ~ Craig Harris