Jerry Gonzalez Showcase 1972-1989
Conga Soul Sessions presents in tribute to Jerry Gonzalez a pioneer and visionary within Latin Jazz who passed away Oct. 1. Jerry is one of the great innovative congueros who after stints with Eddie Palmieri and Manny Oquendo’s Libre picked up his trumpet and along with his younger brother bassist Andy Gonzalez and forged a distinctive path with the Fort Apache Band that he lead. A group that could navigate jazz in rumba clave without compromise to each idiom, where each musician could incorporate something and particularly the rhythm section which didn’t have to be locked in playing a straight rhythm. They went to achieve an organic foundation that was a synthesis of everything that gripped their attention from the most free jazz to the tipico style of the conjuntos that came out of Cuba in the 40s & 50s.
In their early years the brothers lived in the Edenwald projects in the Bronx. Their father was a sonero with a conjunto that played tipico music at social clubs. They got into music and started playing in bands by junior high. Besides absorbing the music of Tito Rodriguez, Cortijo, Puente, Machito and Arsenio Rodriguez along with jibaro music of their elders they started to have an infinity with jazz. During these years Jerry was playing trumpet and not until in 8th grade recovering from a broken leg that he took up playing conga. They both got into Manhattan’s High School of Music and Art and Jerry’s first professional gigs were on the congas. The family eventually moved out of the projects by the late 60s into a house on Gildersleeve Ave which became a focal point for many musicians as the jam sessions would eventually bring in jazz trumpeters Kenny Dorham & Dizzy along with the likes of Machito & Patato. These informal sessions lead to the gathering of the tribe that gave us the two great Grupo Folklorico Experimental Nuevayorquino albums during the mid 70s. They both work with Dizzy Gillespie before joining the most happening latin dance band in New York at the time which was Eddie Palmieri. There relationship with timbalero Manny Oquendo during their stint with Eddie for a few years solidified before Manny left in 74. By later that year both brothers also left Eddie and with Manny started Libre to be a latin dance band that could swing. They were also beginning to get gigs with Group Folkloric which lead to workshops at the New Rican Village. At the time no one was playing this type of music downtown. They also did sessions at another venue during the jazz loft scene at Soundscape which lead to Jerry putting out his first record Ya Yo Me Cure on Kip Hanrahan’s label American Clave in 1980. This was the beginning of the Fort Apache Band lead by Jerry that released 8 albums. The group went into hiatus while Jerry relocated to Spain in 2001 after the movie Calle 54 and started another interesting chapter in his life as he collaborated with flamenco musicians. The Fort Apache Band did come back and do a run at the Blue Note and the Gonzalez brothers were given a homage of their contribution with a concert with Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra in 2011.
This vinyl mix showcases Jerry’s involvement in the groups and projects during those formative years. The majority of these are classic must have albums to those who love this music. His brother is beside him on these selections except on the Hanrahan tracks. In memory of one of the keepers of the flame who was an inspiration to many. To say they don’t make ‘em like this anymore is an understatement. No hay nadie igual - long live la musica de Jerry.
Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band - Guiro Apache
Grupo Folklorico Experimental Nuevayorquino - Canto Ebioso
Kip Hanrahan - No One Gets To Transcend Anything Except Oil Company Executives
Eddie Palmieri - Kinkamache
Manny Oquendo Y Su Conjunto Libre - Goza La Vida
Virgilio Marti - Inyere
Totico Y Sus Rumberos - Mil Gracias
Jerry Gonzalez - Evidence
Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band - Obatala
Grupo Folklorico Experimental Nuevayorquino - Se Me Olvido
Grupo Folklorico Experimental Nuevayorquino - Anabacoa
Eddie Palmieri - Vamonos Pal Monte
Libre - Libre’s Theme
Kip Hanrahan - Don’t Complicate The Life (La Vie)
Hilton Ruiz - El Camino
Jerry Gonzalez - The Lucy Theme
Hilton Ruiz - Message From The Chief
El Mix Es Cultura
“como mi ritmo no hay dos”
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