Gustavo Cortiñas – Drummer, Composer and Educator

​A graduate of Loyola University New Orleans (BM Jazz, Minor in Philosophy, Magna Cum Laude, 2011), and Northwestern University (MM Jazz, 2013), Gustavo Cortiñas has developed a successful career in the US for over a decade, leading and accompanying ensembles in renowned stages and festivals in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Europe. “Cortiñas' music is uplifting, robust, melodic, and gets your body moving; it's an exciting blend of the artist's musical influences from jazz and Latin American, including his native Mexico" (DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE). This can be heard on his records as a leader, "Snapshot" (2013), "a Smörgåsbord of the moods and nuances that make up the human experience... an idiosyncratic album that intrinsically fuses the personal to the universal" (Lissette Corsa, Jazziz Magazine); and "ESSE" (Origin Arts 2017): "With the cohesive and captivating Esse, Cortiñas has created superb work that balances refreshingly inventive ideas with high-caliber musicianship. This exquisite and continuously gripping record is a testament to Cortiñas’ triple threat of skills as dynamic performer, agile bandleader and brilliant composer." (Hrayr Attarian, Chicago Jazz Magazine). During his time in Chicago, Gustavo has become one of the most sought out drummers, performing and recording with Kitt Lyles' Real Talk, Erik Skov's Liminality, Imagery Converter, Emily Kuhn's Helios, Roy McGrath Quaret, and the Carla Campopiano Trio, among other ensembles. Cortiñas is a member of the Chicago Jazz Composer's Collective, performing regularly for their monthly residency at Chicago's very own Green Mill. Currently, with a grant from the Mexican National Endowment of the Arts (FONCA), Gustavo is working on his third and most ambitious project as a leader: a musical journey which traces through thirteen compositions, the poetic and tragic history set by Eduardo Galeano in his book: "The Open Veins of Latin America".

​Born and raised in Mexico City, son of Leon Cortiñas and Gabriela Fouilloux, Gustavo started drumming at the age of 10, studying under Santiago Fortson. In 2004 he enrolled in Centro de Investigacion y Estudios de la Música, where he studied music and drums under Rodrigo Jimenez. Subsequently, he studied privately in Mexico City with Hernán Hecht, who mentored him until his departure from the country.

​In 2007, sponsored by Loyola University, he moved to New Orleans to pursue a BM Degree in Jazz Studies, and a minor in philosophy, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2011. In New Orleans he embraced the opportunity to learn the jazz tradition in the birthplace of jazz, studying and playing with some of the city’s finest musicians, such as jazz icons Wayne Maureau, Johnny Vidacovich, John Mahoney, and Tony Dagradi. Interactions with many other talented players on the local scene led to his musical partnership with saxophonist Roy McGrath, featured on McGrath's debut record "Long Shot" (New Orleans, 2010) and his sophomore recording “Martha" (Chicago, 2014). Another product of his musical ventures in New Orleans was the birth of the Collective Vision Sextet, which released a record in 2010. In 2010 Cortiñas was awarded the Gerry and Franca Mulligan Foundation Scholarship for his outstanding development and achievement in jazz at Loyola University.

​In the fall of 2011, sponsored by the Rev. John M. Krump Endowed Scholarship, Cortiñas moved to Chicago to pursue a Master of Music in Jazz Studies degree at Northwestern University, studying under Willie Jones III and Victor Goines. Proximity to a network of gifted musicians in the Chicago area gave him the opportunity to lead his own groups and to support, as a sideman, some of the city’s great artists.

​Cortiñas graduated from Northwestern in the spring of 2013 with a Master of Music degree. A month later he released his debut record “Snapshot" which earned him critical acclaim internationally. Since then he has been performing regularly in Chicago, and touring throughout the USA, Latin America, Europe and Asia. In 2017, he released his sophomore recording as a leader “Esse", released with Origin Records. The project toured South America, the United States and the UK and performed at the 2017 Chicago Jazz Festival. In 2016 Gustavo became a member of the Chicago Jazz Composers' Collective and has performed regularly at the Collective's residency at the Green Mill. In 2018 Cortiñas was a recipient of the "Youthful Creators" scholarship by FONCA (Mexican Endowment of the Arts) for the production of his most recent compositional project, a rendition of Galeano's "Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina"

Gustavo has become one of the in demand drummers of this musical city, performing and recording regularly with his own band "Snapshot", as well as with Imaginary Convertor, Kitt Lyles Real Talk, Erik Skov Liminality, Tommy Muellner Trio, Emily Kuhn's Helios, Steve Gibbons Gypsy Rhyth Project, Roy McGrath Quartet, Carla Campopiano Trio, the Four Star Brass Band, Spanish Flow, Adreian Davis, amongst others.

Mr. Cortiñas has over a decade of teaching experience with students of all ages and levels. He started as the drum set instructor at the Edron Academy in Mexico City, where he later became a substitute teacher for elementary and middle school music classes. Since then, Gustavo has had an extensive private studio, and also taught master classes in Mexico, Puerto Rico, China and around the United States. He has been teaching at Flatts & Sharpe Music Academy since 2014, and has been a guest artist to perform and help coordinate jazz small ensembles at Northwestern University. Since 2018 Gustavo has been an assistant conductor of the jazz small ensembles and large ensembles at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. IL, and most recently has begun working with the Midwest Young Artists Conservatory. For more information on Gustavo and his music, please visit