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Wed, Aug 17


Merrimans' Playhouse

Gustavo Cortiñas presents Desafío Candente

Cortiñas presents Desafio Candente, original compositions inspired by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano’s “The Open Veins of Latin America.”

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Gustavo Cortiñas presents  Desafío  Candente
Gustavo Cortiñas presents  Desafío  Candente

Time & Location

Aug 17, 2022, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Merrimans' Playhouse, 401 E Colfax Ave, Suite 135, South Bend, IN 46617, USA


About the Event

TICKETS are $10 General/$5 Student. End time is estimate.

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from the Wells Philanthropic Services provided by grants from the John, Anna, and Martha Jane Fields Memorial Trust Foundation, Stanley A. and Flora P. Clark Memorial Community Trust Foundation, and the Florence V. Carroll Charitable Trust, The Esther and George Jaruga Charitable Foundation, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County's ArtsEverywhere initiative, and the Arts Project Support Grant and Arts Recovery Grant through the Indiana Arts Commission. Concert support provided by the Arts Midwest Grow, Invest, Gather (GIG) Fund grant (2022-2023 season).

Cortiñas presents Desafio Candente, original compositions inspired by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano’s “The Open Veins of Latin America.” The Gustavo Cortiñas Sextet includes:

Gustavo Cortiñas - drums

Drew Hansen - trumpet

Artie Black - reeds

Matt Davis - trombone

Joaquín García - piano

Kitt Lyles - bass



Cortiñas returns to Merrimans' Playhouse to present Desafio Candente, a work of fourteen original compositions that draw inspiration from Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano’s “The Open Veins of Latin America.” In his third discographic release, Desafío Candente, Cortiñas brings together more than 30 collaborators, from over 10 different countries, on a 14 song journey through the rhythms, music and landscapes of the American continent, as well as its history of Colonialism, Imperialism, and Neo-liberalism.

A graduate of Loyola University New Orleans (BM Jazz, Minor in Philosophy), and Northwestern University (MM Jazz), 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. Gustavo has become one of the in-demand drummers of this musical city of Chicago, 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 Rhythm Project, Roy McGrath Quartet, Carla Campopiano Trio, Four Star Brass Band, Spanish Flow, Adreian Davis, amongst others.

As a composer, “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 America, including his native Mexico” (DOWNBEAT). This can be heard on his records as a leader, “Snapshot” (2013), and “Esse” (Origin Arts 2017). Out on Woolgathering Records (2021), “Gustavo Cortiñas’ third release as a leader, the magnificent Desafio Candente is an ambitious work both in depth and breadth. Cortiñas draws inspiration from Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano’s iconic “The Open Veins of Latin America” in crafting 14 sublime originals. Desafío Candente is innovative, elegant, and relevant. It is socially engaged music with themes that are simultaneously timely and timeless” (Chicago Jazz Mag). During his time in Chicago, Gustavo has become one of the most sought out drummers, performing and recording with Kitt Lyles, Erik Skov, Imagery Converter, Emily Kuhn, Roy McGrath, Kyle Madsen, 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 fourth project as a leader: “Kind Regards”, which features original songs composed of both lyrics and music by Cortiñas, which attempt to bridge gaps and community in today’s polarized world. Gustavo Cortiñas is a proud endorser of Canopus Drums & Bosphorus Cymbals.

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.

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 classes. Since then, Gustavo has had an extensive private studio, and 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 with the jazz small ensembles at Northwestern University. Since 2018 Gustavo has been an assistant conductor of the jazz combos and jazz orchestras at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. IL, and most recently has begun working as a Jazz Director at the Midwest Young Artists Conservatory.

Artie Black is a saxophonist, clarinetist, composer, and educator based in Chicago. He co-leads the group Black Diamond, an ensemble that has been actively performing and touring since 2012. Artie can also be heard in groups led by drummer Gustavo Cortiñas, bassist Matt Ulery, trumpeter Alexander Massa, guitarist Jeff Swanson, trombonist Luke Malevicz, drummer Greg Artry, and many others in Chicago’s creative music scene. His newest projects are a collaborative trio with bassist/vocalist Katie Ernst and guitarist Matt Gold, and an apprenticeship and collaboration with Indian tabla master Sandip Burman.

Originally from Butler, Pennsylvania, Artie was first inspired to pursue a career in music through lessons with Dr. Terry Steele, professor of saxophone at Slippery Rock University. Artie graduated with a degree in music education from Messiah College in 2010, and during his undergraduate years he was a student of saxophonist Tim Warfield, Jr. Artie continued his studies at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, earning master’s degree in Jazz Studies in 2012. At Indiana, Artie studied saxophone with Tom Walsh and worked as an Associate Instructor with legendary jazz educator David Baker.

In addition to his passion for performance, Artie is fascinated by the learning and teaching master’s degree in Jazz Studies in 2012. At Indiana, Artie studied saxophone with Tom Walsh and worked as an Associate Instructor with legendary jazz educator David Baker. He currently serves as adjunct professor of saxophone at Wheaton College and teaches at Trinity Christian College. Since 2013 Artie has worked as a teaching artist with Orbert Davis’ Chicago Jazz Philharmonic. His goal as a teacher is to inspire his students to find joy through learning for themselves.

Winning Midwest regional drum/percussion competitions by age 9, Joaquín García decided the arts was the path for him. He would soon delve into formal study of the piano by the next year, training in the classical arts. By 2005, aged 15, he won city and state level competitions for interpretations of Chopin and Lecuona repertoire. Receiving a full tuition scholarship to attend Columbia College Chicago as a dual major in composition/performance in classical piano performance, Joaquín would have an inspirational encounter with jazz music and switch disciplines. A year removed from graduation he applied and was accepted with full scholarship to Northwestern University for my M.M. in Jazz Studies. Graduating with honors in 2014, Joaquín expanded his professional working base to include New York City, Mexico City, Memphis, and Miami metropolitan areas.      Joaquín currently tour and record world-wide whilst remaining active nationally with festivals around the U.S. He is a masterclass lecturer, instructor, music director, and professional pianist in various music scenes with his own debut jazz album be released the fall of 2020. He recently became a part of the US band for 6x Grammy Winner Gilberto Santa Rosa as keyboardist.

“...The Man of Flesh and Bone, a ballad sumptuously colored by Joaquin's gorgeous, expressive keyboard touch.” -  Jeff Potter, Downbeat Magazine

Drew Hansen is a Chicago trumpet player making a name for himself as a thoughtful composer and adventurous improviser who combines seemingly disparate influences into a cohesive musical statement. Drew earned his degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he studied with Chicago trumpet luminary, Tito Carrillo, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Charles Daval, and founding member of the Canadian Brass, Ronald Romm. Drew was a member of both the Concert Jazz Ensemble under Chip McNeil and the Latin Jazz Ensemble under Tito Carrillo.

As a bandleader, Drew leads several ensembles of varied instrumentation. “Room Full of Chairs,” featuring Drew on trumpet, vocalist and bassist Katie Ernst, and saxophonists Artie Black and Dustin Laurenzi, is inspired by the haiku of Chicago poet, John O’Connor. Freely improvised compositions lend a soundtrack to O’Connor’s evocative poems. Drew’s quintet, the primary outlet for his more traditional compositions, alternatively features Artie Black and Katie Ernst (singing Drew’s original lyrics), alongside guitarist Sam Hasting, bassist Mike Harmon, and drummer Matt Carroll of Ohmme.

Drew’s debut album, "Stone Forest/Sun Shower," combines these various groups into one musical amalgam. The resulting record is full of lyrical compositions inspired by chamber music, haiku, free jazz, and folk music. Drew’s deep interest in harmony, texture, and melody inform the album’s rich sounds, carrying the listener from one track to the next. Aside from a busy career as a freelancer, Drew also maintains an active role as an educator both privately and in various schools across the Chicagoland-area, teaching brass technique, music theory, and improvisation. Drew can be reached at

Matthew Davis is a Chicago-based composer and multi-instrumentalist focused on various styles of music and sounds from around the world including jazz, Hindustani, and Afro-Cuban genres. His vision is to explore musical concepts, themes, and experiences in avant-garde and global spaces. His range of performances and creative projects both as a touring and recording artist span across the U.S., Brazil, France, Germany, and throughout Europe. Matthew is a prominent musician in the Chicago jazz scene, performing widely in various music festivals and venues. Matthew received his Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, with a focus on jazz performance and jazz trombone. He currently is a brass teacher at Chicago High School of the Arts and is working on a full-length album.

Kitt Lylesis one of Chicago’s most distinctive bassists and composers. Born and raised in South Carolina, Lyles has cultivated an aesthetic that synthesizes his love for Southern roots music with imaginative contemporary jazz. Unafraid to channel romance and grit alike and unwilling to sacrifice the centrality of melody, Lyles draws out the bass’ most vocal personality. Through his lyrical compositional style, inspired by the musical lineage of Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington, he seeks to highlight his musicians’ unique voices as well.

A graduate of Northwestern University (BM Jazz Studies, 2013), Kitt Lyles is an active performer, composer, and educator in the Chicago jazz community. He has been featured on 14 studio albums and toured and taught masterclasses across the US, Latin America, and Asia, including festivals and venues such as The Chicago Jazz Festival, The Charlotte Jazz Festival, The Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Festival Espontáneo in Chiapas, MX, The Chicago Latin Jazz Festival, The Blue Note in Beijing, Blu Jazz Singapore, Zinco Jazz Club in Mexico City, Snug Harbor in New Orleans, ShapeShifter Lab in NYC, The Green Mill, The Jazz Showcase, The Old Town School of Folk Music, and The Logan Center at U Chicago.

In 2015, Lyles released his debut album, Real Talk, which peaked at #84 in Jazzweek radio charts. Regarding Real Talk, Hobart Taylor of KUCI radio wrote “Composer/bassist Lyles is a sterling example of why Chicago is, in my view, the capital city of modern working jazz musicians.... Chicago jazz musicians of every color and gender, whether native or drawn there by its vibrant scene, seem to make a living being true to themselves while expanding the genre via thoughtful composition and playing that celebrates artistry without hooking onto trends.” Lyles recently released Wake Before Dawn, the follow up to Real Talk. Wake Before Dawn continues Lyles’ penchant for blending nostalgic southern roots music, contemporary and straight-ahead jazz, and Latin folkloric music. The album features Lyles’ core septet as well as guest vocalists and musicians from Chicago’s jazz, classical, and Latin music scenes, and from his hometown Greenville, South Carolina. In addition to leading his band “Real Talk Collective”, Kitt has performed with prominent ensembles and individuals of the music scenes in Chicago and beyond such as Grammy Award winning Chuchito Valdes (Cuba), Grammy Award winning Donato Poveda (Cuba), Vladimir Cetkar (Macedonia), the Roy McGrath Quartet, Gustavo Cortiñas Snapshot, Erik Skov Liminality, Mike Allemana, Amos Hoffman, Tony do Rosario, Yuri Hevia, Son Monarcas, and Damian Rivero.


  • General

    $10 Advanced or Door

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  • Student

    $5 Student/Discount

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