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. Gonzalez and group continued their creations on the 1996 album “Fire Dance,” recorded live at Blues Alley, and featuring interpretations of Thelonious Monk as “Let’s Call This,” and “Ugly Beauty,” as well as original compositions. Their efforts were well compensated by winning a score of awards as; Best Jazz Group in Playboy Magazines Readers Poll for 1997.
In 1998 they swept the Latin Jazz category at the New York Jazz Awards winning both the Industry and Journalist Polls. In 1999 the group scored big with the critics and readers polls for Beyond Group of The Year in Downbeat Magazine. In 2000, González relocated to Madrid. The trumpeter went to Madrid for just one day and ended up living there. He immersed himself in the flamenco scene, and started to develop a new concept with the genre, it would blossom in the future. Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band also won rave reviews for their contribution to the video documentary about Latin jazz, “Calle 54”.
The 2001 film also included performances by noted Cuban and other Latin artists: Paquito D’Rivera, Gato Barbieri, Chucho Valdes and Cachao. His hiatus in Madrid resulted in the production of “Los Piratas Del Flamenco” (2004) featuring a Gypsy Flamenco group that includes the esteemed singer “El Cigala.” Gonzalez's trumpet fuses with Nino Josele's flamenco guitar on most of the selections and the blending results in a fresh sound. A novel approach is evident, is it was done without bass, without drums or piano, a radically new sound, a fusion of jazz and flamenco, but with a twist. Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band offered a tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, on their 2005 release “Rumba Buhaina.” This is another well conceived and executed performance, but then by now with these guys we can expect nothing less. Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band First organized in the early 1980s by the Bronx-bred brothers Jerry Gonzalez (trumpet, flugelhorn, congas) and Andy Gonzalez (bass), Fort Apache was initially a large, flexible ensemble, boasting as many as 10 or 15 pieces and featuring such players as Kenny Kirkland, Sonny Fortune, Steve Turre, the late Jorge Dalto, Frankie Rodriguez, Milton Cardona, Hector Hernandez, Angel Vazquez, and others. The band’s first two albums were recorded live at European jazz festivals: The River Is Deep, 1982 in Berlin; Obatala, 1988 in Zurich.
But it was 1989’s Rumba Para Monk, a quintet recording of Thelonious Monk masterpieces arranged by Jerry Gonzalez and the entire band, that brought the Fort Apache concept into focus. Named Jazz Record of the Year by the French Académie du Jazz, the album also resulted in the Fort Apache Band being voted the number one World Beat Group in Down Beat’s 55th annual Readers Poll. The quintet that recorded Rumba Para Monk—with Carter Jefferson on tenor saxophone, Larry Willis on piano, and Steve Berrios on drums—added saxophonist Joe Ford for 1991’s Earthdance and 1992’s Moliendo Cafe. Following the death of Jefferson, former Fort Apache member John Stubblefield returned to the fold on tenor sax. “When we first started,” Berrios explains, “we had more salsa players in the band, but since we’ve added more jazz players—more well-rounded players—the concept is much hipper.
And we’ve gone from playing jazz tunes with Latin rhythms to playing much more original material.” The Fort Apache vision has organically evolved from the backgrounds of its founding members. Born of Puerto Rican heritage in New York City, Jerry Gonzalez, Andy Gonzalez, and Steve Berrios all grew up with their ears and hearts open to both jazz and Latin music. “Whenever I heard jazz—Trane, Miles, or Monk—I heard the Cuban rhythms with it all along,” Jerry Gonzalez told Down Beat in 1990. In 1970, at the age of 21, he was given the chance to apply that understanding, working with Dizzy Gillespie for a year.
“Dizzy proved that you can superimpose authentic bebop over a complex Latin rhythmic bass without watering either of them down,” Gonzalez has explained. “I don’t want to compromise the rhythm and I don’t want to compromise the jazz playing.” In 1971, both Jerry and Andy Gonzalez joined pianist Eddie Palmieri in what many consider to have been the classic band of “El Son.” Not long after, they combined forces with master timbalero Manny Oquendo in Conjunto Libre, the exhilarating Latin band that continues to thrill audiences today. Jerry, who made his recording debut as a leader in 1980 with Ya Yo Me Cure, has also performed with Tony Williams, McCoy Tyner, Kenny Dorham, Anthony Braxton, Tito Rodriguez, Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Paquito D'Rivera, and Machito. Coming from a musical household in which his mother sang and his father was a professional drummer, Steve Berrios remembers that “it was just natural for me to hear both Machito and Duke Ellington.” Although he played jazz trumpet throughout elementary and high school, Berrios eventually turned to the drums, which had always been his “first love.” Self-taught but inspired by such masters as Art Blakey, Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, and Elvin Jones, Berrios filled in for his father in the Latin house band at Manhattan’s Hotel Alameda and found himself playing six nights a week for the next four years. In 1967, he was invited to join the band of Mongo Santamaria and performed on and off with the legendary conguero through 1980.
Berrios’s credits also include long stints with Tito Rodriguez, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and more recently, Hilton Ruiz and Max Roach’s M’Boom ensemble. Discography =Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band Live (1996) =Fire Dance (1996) =Pensativo (1995) =Crossroads (1994) =Molindo Cafe (1991) =Earthdance (1990) =Rumba Para Monk (1988) =Obatala (1988) =The River Is Deep (1982) =Ya Yo Me Cure (1979) Biografia Jerry Gonzalez nació en Nueva York el 5 de junio de 1949 en el barrio latino del Bronx. Como compositor e interprete de percusión, trompeta y flugelhorn es uno de los artistas más reconocidos en la música Jazz latina (también conocida como "afrocuban jazz"). Sus influencias más relevantes se encuentran en Miles Davis y en Dizzy Gillespie, de cuya banda formó parte en los primeros años de la década de los 70. Tras unas experiencias con otros artistas como Manny Oquendo y Eddie Palmieri, Jerry forma la que sería su banda durante los años 80 y primeros de los 90, la Fort Apache Band junto a Andy Gonzalez (su hermano), Larry Willis y Steve Berrios. Pese a obtener cierto reconocimiento en publico y crítica con los discos de la Fort Apache Band, Jerry Gonzalez fue lanzado al resto del publico al participar en el documental de Fernando Trueba "Calle 54", en el que actúan muchos de los artistas más importantes de la corriente del Latin Jazz (Paquito D'Rivera, Michel Camilo, Eliane Elias, etc.). Tras el estreno de la película en 2000 Jerry comienza a recibir invitaciones para participar en festivales y conciertos en España, fijando desde entonces su residencia principal en Madrid y actuando con regularidad en las salas de jazz más importantes de la capital de España. Asimismo su estancia en Madrid le ha permitido participar en grabaciones con distintos artistas como Andrés Calamaro o Martirio. Especialmente interesante es la experiencia de fusión jazz-sonidos flamencos y que han dado como resultado discos como "Jerry Gonzalez y los piratas del flamenco" (2004) junto a artistas flamencos como Piraña, Niño Josele o Diego "El Cigala". Su ultimo proyecto pasa por seguir fusionando Jazz y flamenco con la revisión del clásico de Miles Davis "Flamenco sketches". En 2008 ha colaborado con el genial Andy Chango en su disco "Boris Vian".
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