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.