“Andy and Jerry Gonzalez changed the face of Latin jazz—in fact, they defined that hybrid.” — Arturo O’Farrill
The Gonzalez brothers grew up in the Bronx surrounded by jazz, Puerto Rican music and Cuban music. Jerry plays trumpet, flugelhorn and conga drums, Andy plays the bass. Both are composers, arrangers and bandleaders as well.
The brothers learned well from their mentors: Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Palmieri and Manny Oquendo. They applied those lessons to the group they formed in the early 1980s, The Fort Apache Band, named for their neighborhood in the Bronx.
"Dizzy proved that you can superimpose authentic bebop over a complex Latin rhythmic base without watering either of them down,” Jerry Gonzalez says. “I don’t want to compromise the rhythm and I don’t want to compromise the jazz playing.”
The Fort Apache Band produced a handful of great recordings, picked up a couple of Grammy nominations and had a worldwide reputation for excellence. They toured the US sporadically until Jerry moved to Spain in 2001.
Andy's latest CD, Entre Colegas, was nominated for a 2017 Grammy award. It's a wonderfully intimate and diverse recording from the bassist and several of his close colleagues. Andy calls it "Django Reinhardt goes to Cuba and Puerto Rico.”
Listen for Jerry and Andy Gonzalez with their own group and others this week on Saturday Jazz Caliente!
Here's a clip from a 2010 Fort Apache Band concert at the Gexto Jazz Festival in Spain:
Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. The show is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.