Born in Santiago, Cuba, Luis spent the first 15 years of his life soaking up the rich musical heritage of “El Son” and Carnival. While immersed in the music of his native Cuba, Luis also developed a passion for Rock & Roll, soul music, jazz and the Beatles.
At 15, Luis emigrated to Madrid, Spain, and soon afterward to Hollywood, California. He attended Hollywood High School, playing guitar in numerous rock bands throughout his teens. At LA City College, Luis again took up Cuban drums.
Since then, Luis has become one of the most respected and recorded percussionists in the world, integrating the powerful rhythms of his native Cuba with American pop music. His long and varied career includes numerous Hollywood film scores and mega-successful albums with Madonna, Ray Charles, Phil Collins, Santana, Shakira, Jackson Browne, Sergio Mendes, and Cachao. On numerous occasions, he has been named “Percussionist of the Year” by Modern Drummer and Drum Magazine. Most recently, Luis toured as part of James Taylor’s “Band of Legends,” and is the percussionist for the orchestra on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
Vanaka is honored to feature Luis playing congas, timbale, and a variety of crazy percussion instruments on the Gratitude album’s Anything and The Sweet Spot.