“Fort Apache: The Best Latin Jazz group working”-New York Times
“The most influential modern Afro-Caribbean Jazz Group of the past 30 years”-Downbeat Magazine
“There are still real innovators wandering throughout the world and Jerry González is one such musical nomad”-All About Jazz
“Jerry González & Fort Apache, the band that changed Latin Jazz forever”-Downbeat Magazine
“Andy and Jerry González changed the face of Latin jazz, in fact, they defined that hybrid”
Jerry González (b. New York 1949) is one of the leading figures in the world of Latin Jazz. This 6 time Grammy Nominated trumpeter/conguero is well known for his years of experience with jazz giants such as Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner and Jaco Pastorius, and Latin music greats Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri; as well as a founding member of Conjunto Libre and Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino. However, it is as leader of Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band that his status as one of music’s most innovative and influential voices became widely recognized.
The legendary Fort Apache Band has been active for over three decades, with Jerry González on trumpets and congas, Andy González on bass, Larry Willis on piano, Joe Ford on saxophone and Steve Berrios on drums. Over the years other members of the band have been John Stubblefield, Carter Jefferson, Kenny Kirkland, Sonny Fortune, Steve Turré, Papo Vázquez, Alex Blake, Jeff “Tain” Watts and Victor Jones.
The ensemble's first two albums were recorded live at European jazz festivals: “The River is Deep” (1982) and “Obatalá” (1988). In 1989, the band recorded the groundbreaking “Rumba Para Monk”, named album of the year by the French Academie du Jazz. That year the group was voted the Word Beat Group of the Year in DownBeat's 55th Annual Readers Poll. After that, they recorded “Earthdance” (1991), “Moliendo Cafe” (1992) and the three Grammy nominated albums “Crossroads” (1994), “Pensativo” (1995) and “Firedance” (1996). On the heels of these Grammy nominations, the ensemble was awarded the Beyond Group of the Year by both DownBeat Magazine's Readers and Critics Polls in 1995 and 1996 and won the award for Best Jazz Group in Playboy Magazine's Readers Poll for 1997. In 1998, the ensemble swept the Latin jazz category at the New York Jazz Awards, winning both the Industry and Journalist Polls. In 1999, the group again swept the Critics and Readers Polls for Beyond Group of the Year in DownBeat Magazine. In 2003, they released “Rumba a Buhaina”, a tribute to Art Blakey and in 2012 they recorded "Live at the Blue Note", waiting to be released by Half Note Records.
Following his portrayal in the critically acclaimed documentary Calle 54 (by Oscar Winning director Fernando Trueba) Gonzalez’s fame took on international proportions. After a trip to Spain in support of the film, he decided to settle there.
From duo (A Primera Vista, 2001) to large ensembles (A Tribute to the Fort Apache Band, 2014), each new recording by the trumpeter/conguero has represented another distinctive vision on the world music map.
His years in Spain have resulted in numerous productive collaborations with Spanish musicians such as Paco de Lucía, Diego “El Cigala” and Chano Domínguez. With the release of the Grammy and Latin Grammy nominated Los Piratas del Flamenco (2004), González introduced a radically new sound, innovatively fusing jazz and flamenco.
In recent years, Gonzalez’s most consistent work has been as the leader of his Madrid based quartet El Comando de la Clave. The groups self titled album was nominated by Latin Grammy Awards (2012) and named Latin Jazz Album of the Year (2011) by Downbeat’s Ted Panken. This quartet includes Cuban émigrés bassist/vocalist Alain Pérez, pianist Javier Massó "Caramelo" and drummer Kiki Ferrer; each one an innovative stylist who has contributed to the development of the group’s character, which the leader describes as being inspired by the rhythmic roots of Los Muñequitos de Mantanzas and the jazz intensity of John Coltrane.
Jerry González’s latest album is A Tribute to the Fort Apache Band (2014) with orchestrated versions of the best-known Fort Apache repertoire interpreted by an all-stars big band with Jerry as main soloist.
In the Fall of 2015, Half Note Records will release González next album, recorded live at the Blue Note-NYC with his Fort Apache Band and Jeff Watts and Miguel Zenón as invited guests.
In 2016 he will celebrate his 50th music anniversary.
Jerry González has played with musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Jaco Pastorius, Tito Puente, McCoy Tyner, Manny Oquendo y su Conjunto Libre, Chet Baker, Israel López “Cachao”, Woody Shaw, Tony Williams, Larry Young, Ray Barretto, Freddie Hubbard, Archie Shepp, George Benson, Papa Vázquez, “Chocolate” Armenteros, Hilton Ruiz, Paquito D’Rivera, Chico y Arturo O’Farrill, Steve Turré, Chico Freeman, Rashied Ali, Faoudou Don Moyé, “Chombo” Silva, Bobby Paunetto, Chick Corea, Enrique Morente, Paco de Lucía, Diego “El Cigala”, Javier Colina, Andrés Calamaro, Calle13, The Beach Boys, Enrique Morente and Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra.
During the past three years, he has played the jazz festivals of Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Taichung (Taiwan), San José, Miami, Bogotá, Cali, Pittsburg, Barquisimeto, Barcelona, San Javier, Yerba Buena Gardens festival (San Francisco), Kriol Jazz Festival (Cabo Verde), Jazz en Nord (Francia), Inntöne Jazz Festival (Austria), Jazz à Foix (Francia) and clubs such as Blue Note-NYC, Ronnie Scott's and Blues Alley.
He has been part of the Grammy awarded albums "On Broadway" (Tito Puente), "Unfinished Masterpiece" (Eddie Palmieri), "Turning Point" (McCoy Tyner) and "Journey" (McCoy Tyner) and the Latin Grammy Awarded albums "Picasso en mis Ojos" (Diego "El Cigala") and Cositas Buenas (Paco de Lucía).
“If Latin Jazz has enjoyed a golden era through the past two decades, it's largely thanks to the efforts of the trumpeter and conguero Jerry González"
"The knowledgeable flamenco people say that Jerry's stay in Spain has changed flamenco forever" Fernando Trueba
"Jerry is the last bohemian. This guy lives for music. He only has music in his head. When he is playing, he is never joking"
-New York Times
"Fort Apache’s music is great listening, great jazz, and great fun. They don’t hardly make ‘em like this any more”
-San Francisco Examiner
- JERRY GONZÁLEZ USES MATTHEW SMITH CONGAS -