b. José Natividad Martínez, 25 December 1959, Caracas, Venezuela. Nati played various instruments, including mandolin, piano and saxophone, before settling for the flute and percussion. He started performing professionally at the age of 10 with Grupo Fiebre and Acosta Y Sus Tremendos. He joined Grupo Nueva Gente in 1975. This was followed by a stint as director of La Magnifica, a charanga (flute, strings, rhythm section and voices band) formed by conga player Elio Pacheco, an ex-founder member of Dimensión Latina. He assisted Tabaco (b. Carlos Quintana, 15 September 1943, Venezuela; singer/band leader) in enlarging his sextet to a brass-led orquesta (band), giving it more power and swing. Nati became an accompanist with La Amistad (the Friendship), a band organized by another two ex-members of Dimensión Latina: singer Rodrigo Mendoza and pianist Jesús ‘Chuíto’ Narváez. La Amistad’s co-lead vocalist was Puerto Rican Tito Gómez, who had worked with Sonora Ponceña, La Terrifica, Ray Barretto, Tito Valentín, Grupo Niche and as a solo artist. Nati formed his own charanga and teamed up with Panamanian singer Carlos ‘El Grande’ to record A Base De Salsa in 1982 on the Velvet label. El Grande, who was formerly with La Salsa Mayor, went solo and recorded Sonero Con Clase (1982) with the band of percussionist and vocalist José Mangual Jnr.; he later worked with pianist, band leader and arranger Alfredo Valdés Jnr. and Louie Ramírez. Meanwhile, Nati signed to Ralph Cartagena’s Combo Records label. His 1985 release, Yo No Soy Guapo combined charanga instrumentation (violins, flute) with a brass-led orquesta. Nati composed half the tracks and handled arranging and production. He dropped the flute and violins on Para Usted (1986) and wrote all the arrangements for a trombone/trumpet frontline. In addition to producing the album, he composed over half the songs, including the two outstanding tracks ‘Que Hablen’ and ‘La Engañada’. Nati faded from the scene after his next release. However, he reappeared in 1989 with the aptly titled Regresó (Return) on CBS Records.
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