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Jerry Gonzalez

There are still real innovators wandering throughout the world, absorbing, listening, playing and coming up with original concepts. Jerry Gonzalez is one such musical nomad, who has gone beyond world music into realms still devoid of classification, where there are no defining boundaries, just the motion of a perpetual journey.

Born in 1949 in the Bronx, Jerry Gonzalez was raised in a strong musical atmosphere, with the strains of Latin, Afro-Cuban and jazz music always in his ear, establishing his musical appreciation and molding his future work as an artist. In junior high school, he began playing the trumpet and congas, and jamming with local bands. After deciding this was his calling, Gonzalez then completed his formal studies at New York College of Music and New York University.

He began his professional career as a conga and trumpet player in 1970, performing with Dizzy Gillespie. With Gillespie’s support and encouragement, Gonzalez was able to fuse the African based rhythms onto jazz elements without compromising the essence of either. The next year, Gonzalez joined Eddie Palmieri’s band, “El Son” for a brief period before moving on to work with “Conjunto Libre” the band led by great timbales artist, Manny Oquendo.

Inevitably, Gonzalez talent led him to form his own band. His initial was taken in the late 1970’s with a band he called “Ya Yo Me Cure” and released an album of the same name in 1979. No doubt, his real talent only came to the fore with his second band: “Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band” which included his brother Andy. and other members as Kenny Kirkland, Sonny Fortune, Nicky Marrero, Papo Vazquez, the late Jorge Dalto, and Milton Cardona. The ensembles first two albums were recorded live at European jazz festivals, “The River is Deep,” 1982 in Berlin: “Obatala,” 1988 in Zurich.

These were followed by their hit album, “Rumba Para Monk,” in 1989, earning them recognition from the French Academie du Jazz with the “Jazz Record of the Year” award. This was the record that caught the ears of the jazz community, and is still considered a stellar project.

Gonzalez and the band subsequently released “Moliendo Café” in 1991. The album again demonstrated the band’s ability to play Latin inspired jazz with genuine sensitivity and virtuosity. They followed that effort with the release of “Crossroads” in 1994 and “Pensativo” in 1995, each of which earned them Grammy nominations. The ensemble was awarded The Beyond Group of the Year by both Downbeat Magazines reader's and critic's polls in 1995 and 1996.

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Album Review

Jerry Gonzalez: Y el Comando de la Clave

Read "Y el Comando de la Clave" reviewed by Raul d'Gama Rose

In considering living modern masters of the trumpet, Wynton Marsalis comes to mind first, not Jerry Gonzalez. This is a travesty, because in the warm, bronze glow of Gonzalez's sound there is a singular majesty that deserves much wider recognition than the trumpeter gets. Perhaps it is because he plays in an idiom slightly more insular than mainstream. Now that he resides for the large part in Spain, he is even less frequently recalled. Perhaps his extraordinarily beautiful album, Jerry ...

Album Review

Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band: Rumba Buhaina: The Music of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

Read "Rumba Buhaina: The Music of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers" reviewed by Francis Lo Kee

Art Blakey didn't literally write books, but it could be said that he “wrote the book : first, on jazz drumming, incorporating the essence of swing, extroverted drum solos and some genuinely unique beats that have escaped deeper absorption by contemporary drummers; second, on bandleading, constantly scouting and presenting great (often, younger) talent; and third, on incorporating Afro-Cuban influences into jazz. There could easily be a couple of tribute concerts and recordings to him every year, but as far as ...

Multiple Reviews

Instant Party & Jerry Gonzalez y Los Piratas del Flamenco

Read "Instant Party & Jerry Gonzalez y Los Piratas del Flamenco" reviewed by Javier AQ Ortiz

Poncho Sánchez Instant Party Concord Picante 2004Poncho Sánchez' Instant Party is part of a Concord series that includes similar compilations from Gene Harris, Tito Puente, Mongo SantamarÃ-a and Mel Tormé. “Just Add the willingness to have a good booty-shaking time and Poncho will bring the party home for you. Twenty years worth of recordings, from 1984 to 2003, represent more than a quarter century worth of Latin musical festivities led by one ...

Album Review

Jerry Gonzalez y Los Piratas del Flamenco: Jerry Gonzalez y Los Piratas del Flamenco

Read "Jerry Gonzalez y Los Piratas del Flamenco" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Jimi Hendrix, of rock guitar fame, once led a group called a Band of Gyspys, who were really a bunch of American guys. On Jerry Gonzalez y Los Piratas del Flamenco, Jerry Gonzalez, the New York-born, Puerto Rican trumpeter/percussionist, goes for the real thing, steering a group of Gitano (Iberian Peninsula) gypsy musicians through an enchantingly spare program that mixes Afro-Cuban and American jazz sensibilites with traditional Spanish flamenco.Says Gonzalez: “In flamenco, their thing is accoustic and simple; ...

Album Review

Jerry Gonzalez And The Fort Apache Band: Fire Dance

Read "Fire Dance" reviewed by Douglas Payne

Seems Jerry Gonzalez can do no wrong. His Fort Apache band has recorded sporadically since 1979, yet has maintained a remarkable unity that continues to strengthen with each recording. Fire Dance is a gem of a performance, caught live at DC's famed (and overpriced) Blues Alley (February 2-6, 1996) and most beautifully recorded by ace producer Todd Barkan. A former percussionist with Dizzy Gillespie and McCoy Tyner back in the 70s, Gonzalez is also an excellent trumpet/flugelhorn player who's dynamic ...

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Jerry González Is Gone

Jerry González Is Gone

Source: Rifftides by Doug Ramsey

It is sad to hear of the death of Jerry González, the extraordinary bandleader, trumpeter and Latin percussionist. He died of heart failure at 69 after being overcome by smoke in a fire in his home in Madrid, Spain on Monday. He had lived in Madrid since 2000. In the late 1970s, González and his bassist brother Andy established The Fort Apache Band, which quickly became one of the leading groups combining jazz and Latin music. Their album Rumba Para ...


Performance / Tour

Omar Sosa Afreecanos Quartet and Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band Electrify in an Afro-Caribbean Jazz Double Bill

Omar Sosa Afreecanos Quartet and Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band Electrify in an Afro-Caribbean Jazz Double Bill

Source: AAJ Staff

Philadelphia, PA: The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts kicks off its 11/12 Latin Roots series with the dual presentation of Omar Sosa Afreecanos Quartet and Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band with special guest Dafnis Prieto, October 28, 2011 at 7:30 PM. With both critically-acclaimed acts showcasing their unique fusion of complex Latin rhythms and impeccable jazz improvisations, lines between Latin and jazz fall to the wayside in an all-out celebration of dynamic, exhilarating rhythms in this one-night-only ...



Geri Allen, and Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band, Headline 2009 Reno Jazz Festival

Geri Allen, and Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band, Headline 2009 Reno Jazz Festival

Source: All About Jazz


The best jazz musicians in the world travel to the University of Nevada, Reno each spring to perform and teach at the Reno Jazz Festival. This year, extraordinary pianist/composer and educator Geri Allen, and legendary percussionist/trumpeter and bandleader Jerry Gonzalez and his Fort Apache Band will share their talent and expertise with the festival's more than 10,000 attendees.

In addition ...


Music Industry

Live Latin Jazz: Jerry Gonzalez in NYC and Kat Parra in Chicago

Live Latin Jazz: Jerry Gonzalez in NYC and Kat Parra in Chicago

Source: All About Jazz


Performance / Tour

Latin Sensation Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band At NYC's Town Hall

Latin Sensation Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band At NYC's Town Hall

Source: All About Jazz

New York City - Four time winners of Beyond Group of the Year in Downbeat Magazines Readers & Critics Polls, JERRY GONZALEZ AND THE FORT APACHE BAND are cited as the most influential modern Afro-Caribbean Jazz Group of the past 30 years. Blending complex Latin rhythms with impeccable jazz improvisations The New York Times calls the band “the best Latin Jazz group working."

Join us on Friday, March 3, 2006 at 8 pm, as this sizzling band takes the stage ...

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Molly Skuse
Sixth Street All Stars
band / ensemble / orchestra



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Y el Comando de la...

Sunnyside Records


Avísale A Mi...

Lola Records


Rumba Buhaina: The...

Random Chance Records


Jerry Gonzalez y Los...

Sunnyside Records


Y Los Piratas Del...

Lola Records


Fire Dance

Fantasy Jazz



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