JERRY GONZALEZ & THE FORT APACHE BAND
One could easily overlook the accomplishments of trumpeter, percussionist, and bandleader Jerry Gonzalez in Latin jazz’s current bull market, but Gonzalez was capitalizing on commonalities between jazz and various Latin musics long before the category was on every jazz journalist’s lips. As far back as 1980, on Ya Yo Me Cure (American Clave), there among the Afro-Caribbean percussion tracks and an obvious take on “Caravan” Gonzalez slipped in a version of Thelonious Monk’s “Evidence,” showing how Monk’s tricky rhythms could be viewed through the sensitive lenses of salsa and Afro-Cuban music. Gonzalez explored that theme in greater detail on Rumba para Monk (Sunnyside), a critically lauded breakthrough from ’88, and across many other fine records he’s included compositions by Wayne Shorter, Bud Powell, and original bebop cubano Dizzy Gillespie, with whom Gonzalez sometimes played when coming up in the 70s. Where some contemporary Latin-jazz artists emphasize the slicker and sweeter side of the equation, Gonzalez has always held on to the gritty, sweaty part, looking as much to folk forms as to popular forms. This means performances by his longtime sextet, the Fort Apache Band–which spotlights the abilities of AACM-associated saxophonist John Stubblefield–are spellbinding, motion-inducing intercultural music events, with all the benefits of polyglotism and none of the PC pomposity of cut-and-paste world music. The full Fort Apache Band plays Saturday, 8 PM, Ramsey Auditorium, Fermilab, Kirk and Pine, Batavia; 630-840-2787. Gonzalez will also perform with a trio featuring his brother and longstanding partner Andy Gonzalez on bass and Larry Willis on piano, Saturday at 2 PM at the Claudia Cassidy Theater in the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 312-744-1430. JOHN CORBETT
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by John Abbott.