Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b José Natividad Martinez, 25 December 1959, Caracas, Venezuela) Salsa bandleader, flautist, percussionist, composer, arranger, producer; name also spelt 'Nati'. Played assorted instruments including mandolin, piano, and sax prior to choosing flute and percussion; began pro career at age ten with Grupo Fiebre and Acosta y sus Tremendos; worked with Grupo Nueva Gente '75 and conguero Elio Pacheco's charanga La Magnifica. Helped singer/bandleader Tabaco (b Carlos Quintana, 15 September 1943, Venezuela; d there mid-1990s) switch from a sextet to a punchy brass-led band called Tabaco y sus Metales; played on the band's eponymous LP '78 on LAD. Joined La Amistad co-led by pianist Jesús 'Chuito' Narváez and singer Rodrigo Mendoza; performed on their Presente y Pasado '79 and El Poder De La Amistad '80 on Velvet. Organized his own charanga '81, made LP A Base De Salsa '82 on Velvet with Panamanian singer Carlos 'El Grande' (Carlos Ferrer); follow-up Nati y su Charanga c.'83 included hit 'Sandra Mora' sung by Erick Franceschi. Switched to Ralph Cartagena's Combo label; mixed charanga flute and violin elements with the trombone/trumpet front line of his new orchestra (founded '84) on Yo No Soy Guapo '85 with Erick providing lead vocals. He dropped the violins on subsequent albums Para Usted '86 and Combo finale Tiene Razon Señora '86. He continued with Mariana '86 and La Experiencia y El Futuro '87, latter in collaboration with female singer Canelita Medina (b Rogelia Medina, 6 March 1939, La Guaira, Venezuela). He returned with Regreso '89 on CBS and El Legendario '91 on Columbia/Sony; produced, directed and mostly arranged Erick's solo album Aquel Cantor '95 on Velvet/Vedisco. 'Naty's only rival as the most outstanding talent to emerge in the '80s is Jairo Varela [see Grupo Niche],' wrote UK salsa disc jockey Tomek. 'The Venezuelan does it all: plays, writes, arranges, leads the band, be it charanga or orquesta, always with unfailing swing, taste, and awareness in depth of the tradition.'