This native of the South Bronx grew up with jazz and Cuban music simultaneously. Playing trumpet and conga drums, he came up in the bands of Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Palmieri and Manny Oquendo. Best known for his Fort Apache Band, formed with his brother, bassist Andy Gonzalez, he relocated to Spain in 2001 and began to explore flamenco music. He’s issued two CDs from Spain, Los Piratas Del Flamenco and Jerry Gonzalez y el Comando de la Clave, both Grammy-nominated recordings.
Jerry Gonzalez is one of the Nuyorican musicians who “saved” Cuban music—more about this in future posts.
“Andy and Jerry Gonzalez changed the face of Latin jazz—in fact, they defined that hybrid.” — Arturo O’Farrill
“Everything I know, I learned playing on rooftops in the Bronx, in the slums…in the neighborhood, you know, there was rumba everywhere. On the corner, on the rooftops…sometimes we’d play soccer first, and afterwards we’d play (music) right on the same roof of the building.”
Listen for Jerry Gonzalez on Jazz Caliente, Thursdays at 2pm on KPLU’s Mid Day Jazz.