Sound Culture Presents: Jerry Gonzalez & El Comando de la Clave
One of the leading figures in the world of Latin Jazz, trumpeter/conguero Jerry Gonzalez is well known in his native United States for his years of experience with jazz giants such as Dizzy Gillespie and McCoy Tyner and Latin music greats Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente, as well as a founding member of Conjunto Libre and Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino, but it is as leader of Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band that his status as one of music’s most innovative voices and the greatness of his artistic vision became widely recognized. Following his portrayal in FernandoTrueba’s critically acclaimed documentary Calle 54 Gonzalez’s fame took on international proportions. After a trip to Madrid in support of the film, finding the Spanish people’s reaction to his music enticing and the European environment more hospitable than his post 9/11 New York home, he decided to settle there.
His years in Madrid have resulted in numerous productive collaborations with various Spanish musicians, such as Chano Dominguez, Paco de Lucía, Omar Sosa and Jorge Pardo. With the release of the Grammy nominated Los Piratas Del Flamenco (2004) featuring the guitarist Niño Josele, the percussionist Israel Suárez “Piraña” and the renowned vocalist Diego El Cigala, Gonzalez introduced a radically new sound, innovatively fusing jazz and flamenco. From duo (A Primera Vista with Federico Lechner) to large ensembles (Music for Big Band with Miguel Blanco) each new recording by the trumpeter/conguero has represented yet another distinctive trail on the world music map.
In recent years, Gonzalez’s most consistent work has been as the leader of his Madrid based quartet El Comando de la Clave, as heard on the recently released self titled Sunnyside CD, named 2011 Latin Jazz Album of the Year by Downbeat’s Ted Panken. Featuring Cuban émigrés electric bassist/vocalist Alain Pérez (bass), pianist Javier Massó “Caramelo” drummer and Kiki Ferrer, each one an innovative stylist who has contributed to the development of the group’s character, which the leader describes as being informed by the rhythmic roots of Los Muňequitos de Mantanzas and the jazz intensity of John Coltrane. Gonzalez says, “I love my bandmates. Something has developed between us, a unique style.”