The music of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers serves as a suitable theme for this album by Jerry Gonzalez and his Latin jazz band, since they exhibit the same kind of percussive drive with integrated melody that the hard bop drummer and his quintets shared with us for decades.
It's been almost two decades already for Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band, which continues to excite with its fiery blend of Latin flavors and improvised adventure. The trumpeter pushes hard and teams well with saxophonist Joe Ford to communicate fluently. Gonzalez, Ford, Larry Willis, Steve Berrios, and Andy Gonzalez have been doing this together long enough that they've become quite cohesive.
The band's title composition, "Rumba Buhaina, puts them all together in a mesmerizing up-tempo affair. Here, Gonzalez uses the conga drums to relate to the Afro-Caribbean tradition, while Ford stretches out with an exotic tale on soprano. Willis' new ballad "The Day You Said Goodbye moves slowly with heartfelt concern as soprano, piano, and drums pare it down for a lovely spell. "Ask Me Now is performed alone by trumpet, bass, and piano in Miles-like soliloquy.
The remainder of the program marries the tradition of Latin jazz with the music that Art Blakey brought us. Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band have honored the spirit while interpreting these songs in their own way.
Personnel: Jerry Gonzalez: trumpet, flugelhorn, congas, percussion; Joe Ford: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Larry Willis: piano; Andy Gonzalez: bass; Steve Berrios: drums, percussion.