Jerry Gonzalez

The musical wiles of Nuyorican jazzman Jerry Gonzalez have captivated a growing number of listeners since his obscure debut as a leader more than 15 years ago (Ya Yo Me Cure, on Sunnyside and now on CD). Like Dizzy Gillespie, a mentor and onetime employer, Gonzalez plays both trumpet and congas; and if he (like almost every other trumpeter) stands in the shadow of Dizzy’s horn, well, Gillespie could have taken a few percussion lessons from Gonzalez. (Gonzalez also has an especially fluent flugelhorn style, and when he mutes his horn, he can pay uncanny homage to Miles Davis.) And Gonzalez doesn’t stop at the intersection of bop and Latin rhythms that Gillespie pioneered: his later arrangements have pushed toward a fuller integration of the two while incorporating songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner and Thelonious Monk. These days, he almost always performs in command of his Fort Apache Band, the bristling sextet that epitomizes his stated desire to combine those idioms without compromising either one. But for Thanksgiving weekend Gonzalez leaves the Apaches home; in Chicago he’ll headline a series of events sponsored by the Jazz Institute of Chicago under the title “Clave,” celebrating “the roots of Latin rhythm.” Friday he joins the Ensemble Kalinda Chicago–the Afro-Caribbean chamber group based at the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College–in a program that will present and explain the variations on clave found in Afro-Caribbean music, including that of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and of course Cuba. Saturday finds Gonzalez in the more casual setting of a Latin jazz dance party, where he will add his talents to the local Mambo Express, led by Victor Parra (and presumably inspire the band to heretofore unattained heights). Friday, 8 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago; 312-427-1676 or 312-397-4010. Saturday, 8:30 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 773-235-3232.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Jerry Gonzalez photo by John Abbott.