To call el Gran Combo de Puerto Rico a salsa classic would be the understatement of a lifetime. Words like "mythic" or "legendary" would better describe their weight and ubiquitous presence in the salsa world. Their 2004 release Aquí Estamos y...¡de Verdad! is in keeping with their tradition of excellence, and the Latin Grammy nomination it garnered is well deserved. Musical director Rafael Ithier favors the round, warm sound that made el Gran Combo the household name that it is. From the vocal approach to the horn and percussion section, the common goal seems to be salsa as smooth as possible. The youthful fire and passion emulated by younger artists is replaced by el Combo's mature elegance. From the photo on the cover to the wise musical sensibility of Aquí Estamos y...¡de Verdad!, some might consider the package outdated -- la salsa de mis abuelos. El Gran Combo might not win any new fans with this release, but on the other hand, they don't need to. They deliver the classic, flawless musical stylings that won the hearts of their people, and later the world. Sometimes it's refreshing when an artist does not try to reinvent himself.
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AllMusic Review by Evan C. Gutierrez