José Luis Cortés, affectionately nicknamed El Tosco, is one of Cuban music diamonds. As few, Cortés had the privilege to work in Los Van Van and Irakere –the most relevant and influent two bands in the past 30 years–, moreover surrounded by two greatest contemporary musicians, Juan Formell and Chucho Valdés. The first, a tremendous Salsa composer and conductor; the latter, the prominent leader of the Latin Jazz movement in Cuba. This experience strengthens Cortés as flutist player, composer and arranger, driving him, at the same time, to look for perfection in two different and complex genders.
Afterwards Los Van Van and Irakere, El Tosco establishes in 1988 his own musical project NG la banda, which has enriched Cuban music for more than 20 years. With the album En la calle (1989) the band becomes pioneer of Timba, gender that emerges in the ninety’s and influences until present days all dance pop music. If you truly want to know how Cuban Timba sounds and how much has evolved, you should listen the entire discography, but if you don’t have the chance or the time to listen all, pick up three tracks: “La expresiva”, “Santa palabra” and “La dura”.
Keep in mind this: though El Tosco has a “timbero” heart, easily can surprise you in the middle of a concert, with a Jazz interlude. In other words: he always keeps a trick up one’s sleeve.