Cuban Musician José Luis Cortés ‘El Tosco’ Dies at 70

The flutist, composer and musical director, José Luis Cortés, was born in Villa Clara on October 5, 1951. (Cubadebate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 April 2022 — Cuban musician José Luis Cortés El Tosco died this Monday in Havana at the age of 70, sources close to the artist informed 14ymedio, confirming that the director of NG La Banda had been having health problems for a few months.

Although the cause of death has not been revealed, the sources affirm that “he had heart problems.”

The flutist, composer and musical director was born in Villa Clara on October 5, 1951. In his long artistic career he played with the Los Van Van orchestra, of which he was the founder, and the Irakere orchestra, conducted by Chucho Valdés, where he composed works that became popular.

In 1988, together with other musicians, he decided to found the Nueva Generación NG La Banda orchestra, which he directed until his death. Among the group’s best-known songs, performed by vocalists such as Issac Delgado and Tony Calá, are La brujaÉchale Limón y NG La Banda, La que manda.

On several occasions, El Tosco was involved in numerous controversies. One of them was involved statements about the Buena Vista Social Club group, which he called a “damn lie.”

He also quoted Manolín El Médico de la Salsa to say that “Miami is the graveyard of Cuban musicians…  Issac Delgado himself, when things were bad, had to turn back to Havana,” Cortés argued in an interview, pointing out that Delgado had emigrated to the United States several decades ago and later returned to make musical collaborations in the Island

The musician was denounced in 2019 by the singer Dianelys Alfonso Cartaya, known as La Diosa , for alleged domestic violence, revealing alleged abuse towards her person by El Tosco at the time they worked together in NG La Banda. Alfonso, according to her reports weeks later, managed to file a lawsuit against Cortés.

The official newspaper Granma , when reporting the death of El Tosco, recalled that the artist received the National Music Award in 2017 and “is considered one of the creators of the new school of flutists of our popular music and precursor of timba.”


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