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28

FRIDAY

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The members of the Buena Vista Social Club aren’t the only elderly ambassadors of Latin dance music. Puerto Rico’s El Gran Combo, led by 73-year-old self-taught pianist/arranger Rafael Ithier, has kept salsa devotees around the world sashaying for 38 years. Considered an institution in the Spanish-speaking world, El Gran Combo is less well-known in Anglo America. None of the group’s more than 50 releases have come out on a major label in the United States. But the band’s Puerto Rican titles show what the corporate American music industry has been missing—a well-rehearsed, syncopated good time. Although Ithier’s outfit has changed membership periodically, its sound has remained consistent. Swiftly propelled by its leader’s piano, a bassist, and three percussionists, El Gran Combo takes a classic Afro-Caribbean approach and embroiders it with joyous brass and buoyant vocals. The band performs at 9 p.m. at the Capital Expo Center, 4320 Chantilly Place, Chantilly. $25. (301) 625-2026. (Steve Kiviat)