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Rafael Ithier Nadal[note 1] (born August 29, 1926) is a Puerto Rican salsa musician and the founder of the highly successful orchestra El Gran Combo. Ithier was born in Río Piedras, now a part of greater San Juan.
Ithier Nadal and his namesake, Rafael Cortijo, knew each other and formed a friendship at an early age; rumors of animosity would later surface but they both denied it, saying they considered themselves to be "like brothers." Ithier Nadal joined Cortijo's orchestra, "Cortijo y su Combo", during the 1950s. Before that, he was in a New York group named the "Borinqueneers Mambo Boys."
In 1977 Ithier Nadal worked as a music arranger on the debut album for the Puerto Rican ensemble band "Puerto Rico All Stars".
El Gran Combo
In 1962, Ithier Nadal formed "El Gran Combo", becoming the orchestra's leader. He has held that position for fifty years, and continues to tour with the group, as of 2012.
A tale about Ithier Nadal and the members of "El Gran Combo" sharing a near-death experience when they supposedly were stranded at Las Américas International Airport in Santo Domingo and failed to board the Dominicana Airlines DC-9 that crashed in the Caribbean when a member of the group had a bad feeling about the flight is not true. The orchestra was at Venezuela at the moment of the accident and arrived at Santo Domingo the day after the crash.