Monday, June 20, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (june 19 - 25) - Jerry Gonzalez

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (june 19 - 25) - Jerry Gonzalez

Jerry González was born in 1949 in Manhattan, on 58 street and 3ª Avenue, and moved to the Bronx at the age of 4. He 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. His father, Jerry González Sr. was a master of ceremonies and lead singer for bands during the Palladium era and sang with musicians like Claudio Ferrer. In junior high school he began playing trumpet and congas and jamming with local bands. After deciding this was his calling, Gonzalez completed his formal studies at New York College of Music and New York University. He started his professional career playing with Lewellyn Mathews in New York State World's Fair in 1963. Then, in 1970, he started playing congas 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 till 1974, before moving on to work with “Conjunto Libre” the band led by great timbales artist Manny Oquendo and Andy González. He and his brother the bass player Andy Gonzalez were the fundators of the Conjunto Anabacoa and later of the charismatic Grupo Folklórico y Experimental Nuevayorkino with whom he made two records: Concepts of Unity (1974) and Lo Dice Todo (1975). The band members were: Jerry and Andy González, Frankie Rodríguez, Milton Cardona, Gene Golden, Carlos Mestre, Nelson González, Manny Oquendo, Oscar Hernandez, José Rodríguez, Gonzalo Fernández, Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, Willy García, Heny Álvarez, Virgilio Martí, Marcelino Guerra, Rubén Blades, Orlando "Puntilla" Ríos and Julito Collazo.

He played with Tito Puente ensemble (1984 to 1999) McCoy Tyner band (1984 to 1990) and Jaco Pastorius band (1984 to 1987)

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, Milton Cardona, Papo Vazquez and the late Jorge Dalto. The ensembles first two albums were recorded live at European jazz festivals, “The River is Deep” in 1982 in Berlin and “Obatalá” in 1988 in Zurich. These were followed by their hit album, "Rumba Para Monk,” in 1988, earning them recognition from the French Academie du Jazz with the “Jazz Record of the Year” award. This was the record that caught the ears of the jazz community, and is still considered a stellar project. After that, the 15 members band was compressed into a sextet: Larry Willis (piano), Andy González (bass), Steve Berrios (Drums) and Carter Jefferson (sax) and Joe Ford (sax).

Gonzalez and the band subsequently released "Obatalá" (Enja, 1988), "Earthdance" (Sunnyside,1990) and "Moliendo Café” (Sunnyside, 1991). These albums again demonstrated the band’s ability to play Latin inspired jazz with genuine sensitivity and virtuosity. After "Moliendo Café", Carter Jefferson passed away and was replaced by John Stubblefield. They then released "Crossroads” in 1994 and "Pensativo” in 1995, each of which earned them Grammy nominations. The ensemble was awarded The Beyond Group of the Year by both Down Beat Magazine reader's and critic's polls in 1995 and 1996.

Gonzalez and group continued their creations on the 1996 album "Fire Dance,” recorded live at Blues Alley, and featuring interpretations of Thelonious Monk as "Let’s Call This” and "Ugly Beauty,” as well as original compositions. Their efforts were well compensated by winning a score of awards as; Best Jazz Group in Playboy Magazines Readers Poll for 1997. In 1998 they swept the Latin Jazz category at the New York Jazz Awards winning both the Industry and Journalist Polls. In 1999 the group scored big with the critics and readers polls for Beyond Group of The Year in Down Beat Magazine.

Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band also won rave reviews for their contribution to the video documentary about Latin jazz, Calle 54 directed by the Oscar awarded Fernando Trueba. The 2000 film also included performances by noted Cuban and other Latin artists: Tito Puente, Paquito D’Rivera, Gato Barbieri, Chucho Valdes, Dave Valentin and Israel López "Cachao".

Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band offered a tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers on their 2005 release “Rumba Buhaina”. That was their first record as a quintet, without John Stubblefield, who passed away in 2005. The band is still alive and functioning. In 2008, the Heineken Festival paid tribute to Jerry González and his brother Andy González, the first Puertoricans to be honored by the Heineken Festival.

In 2000 González relocated to Madrid. The trumpeter went to Madrid for just one day during a tour with Calle 54 movie and ended up living there. He immersed himself in the flamenco scene and started to develop a new concept with the genre that would blossom in the future. His hiatus in Madrid resulted in the production of “Los Piratas Del Flamenco” (2004) a band and album that included the flamenco guitarist Niño Josele, the percussionist Israel Suárez "Piraña" and the singer Diego “El Cigala”. A novel approach is evident, as it was done without bass, without drums or piano, a radically new sound, a fusion of jazz and flamenco but with a twist. The album was nominated to the Grammy Awards as best Latin jazz album and won the Critics Award in New York as best Latin-jazz album of the year. He has also played with other flamenco musicians such as Enrique Morente, El Negri, Javier Limón and Paco de Lucía, copla musicians like Martirio and Pilar Boyero and pop musicians living in Spain like the Argentinean Andrés Calamaro. Jerry González latest albums have been "A primera vista" (duet with Federico Lechner, 2002), "Music for Big Band" (Youkali/Universal, 2006) and "Avísale a mi contrario que aquí estoy yo" (Cigala Music/Sunnyside, 2010-2011), recorded with "El comando de la clave", Jerry's quartet in Spain, which includes the Cubans Alain Pérez (bass), Javier Massó "Caramelo" (piano) and Kiki Ferrer (drums). His next projects are an album with the Spanish double-bass player Javier Colina and a tribute album to Los Muñequitos de Matanzas.

During his career Gonzalez has been playing with musicians such as Jaco Pastorius, Tito Puente, McCoy Tyner, Chet Baker, Eddie Palmieri, Israel López "Cachao", Wood Shaw, Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Williams, Larry Young, The Beach Boys, Freddie Hubbard, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Archie Shepp, Paco de Lucía, George Benson, Papo Vázquez, Bobby Paunetto, Chocolate Armenteros, Hilton Ruíz, Chico Freeman, Famoudou Don Moyé, José "Chombo" Silva, Rashied Ali, Paquito D'Rivera and Steve Turre.

Ya Yo Me Cure (American Clave/Sunnyside, 1979)
The River Is Deep (Enja, 1982)
Rumba para Monk (Sunnyside, 1988)
Obatalá (Enja, 1988)
Earthdance (Sunnyside, 1990)
Moliendo Café (Sunnyside, 1991)
Crossroads (Fantasy, 1994)
Pensativo (Fantasy, 1995)
Impressions with Afro Blue Band, (Fantasy, 1995)
Fire Dance (Fantasy,1996)
Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band Live (1996)
Calle 54 (Calle54, 2000)
Jerry González & Federico Lechner: A primera vista (2002)
Jerry Gonzalez & Los Piratas del Flamenco (Lola Records/Sunnyside, 2004)
Rumba Buhaina (Sunnyside, 2005)
Music for a Big Band (Youkali/Universal, 2006)
Avísale a mi contrario que aquí estoy yo (Cigala Music/Sunnyside, 2011)

As sideman:
George Benson: The other side of Abbey Road (A&M, 1969)
Bobby Paunetto: Commit to Memory (Pathfinder/Tonga, 1970)
Dizzy Gillespie: Portrait of Jenny (Perception, 1970)
Clifford Thornton: Communications Network (Third World, 1972)
Huston Person: Island Episode (Prestige, 1973)
Eddie Palmieri: Sentido (1973)
Clifford Thornton: Gardens of Harlem (JCOA, 1974)
Eddie Palmieri: Unfinished Masterpiece (Coco/MPL, 1974)
Bobby Paunetto: Paunetto's Point (Pathfinder/Toga, 1974)
Charlie Palmieri: Impulsos (Coco/MPL, 1975)
Grupo Folklórico Experimental Nuevayorkino: Concepts of Unity (Salsoul, 1975)
Bobby Paunetto: Commit to Memory (Pathfinder/Toga, 1976)
Grupo Folklórico Experimental Nuevayorkino: Lo dice todo (Salsoul, 1976)
Paquito D'Rivera: Blowin' (Columbia, 1981)
Totico: Totico y sus rumberos (Montuno, 1981)
Kip Hanrahan: Coup de tête (American Clavé, 1981)
McCoy Tyner: Looking out (Columbia, 1982)
Kip Hanrahan: Desire Develops an Edge (American Clavé, 1981)
Tito Puente: On Broadway (Concord Picante, 1982)
Abbey Lincoln: Talking to the sun (Enja, 1983)
Kirk Lightsey: Isotope (Criss Cross, 1983)
Jaco Pastorius: Jaco Pastorius live in New York Vol. I & III (Big World, 1985)
Carlos "Patato" Valdés: Masterpiece (Messidor, 1984)
Virgilio Martí: Saludos a los rumberos (Caimán,1984)
Jaco Pastorius: Punk Jazz (Big World, 1986)
Franco Ambrosetti: Movies (Enja, 1986)
Soundtrack of the movie Crossover Dreams (Electra/Asylum1986)
Hilton Ruiz: El camino (RCA/BMG/Novus, 1987)
Steve Turré: Viewpoints on Vibrations (Stash, 1987)
Santi Debriano: Obeah (Free Lance, 1987)
Kip Hanrahan: Days and nights of blue luck inverted (American Clavé, 1987)
Steve Turré: Fire and Ice (Stash, 1988)
Larry Willis: Heavy Blue (Steeplechase, 1989)
Kirk Lightsey: Everything is changed (Sunnyside, 1989)
McCoy Tyner: The Turning Point (Birdology, 1991)
Charles Fambrough: The proper angle (CTI, 1991)
Kenny Kirkland: Kenny Kirkland (GRP, 1991)
Don Byron: Music for six musicians (1992)
Dave Valentin: Tropic Heat (GRP, 1993)
Bobby Hutcherson: Acoustic Masters II (Atlancic, 1993)
McCoy Tyner: Journey (Birdology, 1993)
Hilton Ruiz: Heroes (Telarc, 1993)
David Sanchez: Sketches of Dreams (Columbia, 1994)
Sonny Fortune: A Better Understanding (Blue Note, 1994)
Afro Blue band: Impressions (1995)
Chico O'Farrill: Pure Emotion (Milestone, 1995)
Giovanni Hidalgo: Time Shifter (Tropijazz, 1996)
Bobby Matos: Footprints (Cubop, 1996)
Abbey Lincoln: You and I (Jazzfest, 1997)
Deep Rumba: The music of Marlon Simon (K-Jazz, 1998)
Arturo O'Farrill: Blood Lines (Milestone, 1999)
Batacumbele: Hijos de tambó (Batá, 1999)
Rumbajazz: Tribute to Chombo (Sunnyside, 1999)
Abbey Lincoln: Over the years (Verve, 2000)
Diego "El Cigala": Corren tiempos de alegría (2001)
Andrés Calamaro: Tinta Roja (2001)
Martirio: Mucho Corazón (2001)
Enrique Morente: Pequeño Reloj (Virgin/Emi, 2003)
Paco de Lucía: Cositas Buenas (2004)
Diego "El Cigala": Picasso en mis ojos (2005)
Niño Josele: Paz (2006)
Javier Limón: La tierra del Agua (2007)
Javier Limón: Son de Limón (2008)
Andrés Calamaro: Obras Incompletas (2009)
Andrés Calamaro: On the Rock (2010)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jazz and Bossa Artist of the Week (june 5 - 11) - John Benitez

Instrument: Bass

John Benitez - acoustic and electric bass
Grammy award-winning bassist John Benitez, born in Rio Piedras Puerto Rico, started playing gospel music in church at the age of thirteen. Already a gifted musician, John began his formal education at “Escuela Libre de Musica” followed by study at the University of Puerto Rico and later the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music with master bassist Federico Silva.

By age nineteen, John was the first-call bassist in San Juan's thriving Jazz and Latin music scenes. He performed with, among others, such well-known artists as Chick Corea, Lucecita Benitez, Batacumbele, Lalo Rodriguez, Cuco Peña, Roberto Roena, and Justo Betancourt. In his early twenties, he toured with Batacumbele to Columbia, South America where he continued to play and study music. Always in demand, John was asked to play with some of the top names in the country like Joe Madrid and often accompanied international touring artists like trumpeter “Chocolate” Armenteros.

In 1993, John move to New York and attended the City College of New York where he studied with the legendary acoustic bassist, Ron Carter and later with the contra bass guitarist Anthony Jackson. His education, however, was not limited to formal classroom study. John learned on the bandstand performing with some of the finest Jazz and Latin musicians including, Wynton Marsalis, Tito Puente, Michele Camilo, Dave Valentin, Eddie Palmieri, Bobby Watson, David Sanchez, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart, Danilo Perez, Kenny Kirkland, Will Calhoun, Vinny Valentino, Chucho Valdez, Don Pullen, Dave Samuels, and Mongo Santamaria, to name just few.

He recorded with Roy Hargrove's Crisol band (whose recording, “Habana,” was awarded the Grammy for best Latin jazz performance in 1997), David Sanchez (the Grammy nominated, “Obsesion”) Tito Puente, Hilton Ruiz, Antonio Hart, the Tropi-Jazz All Stars, the Mingus Big Band, the Caribbean Jazz Project, and Eddie Palmieri.

John has participated in two instructional videos with master percussionist Giovanni Hildalgo and Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa. He can also be seen on the national tv and cable shows, Good Morning America, The Today Show and BET On Jazz.

As a sideman and a featured special guest, John has performed in all of the major jazz festivals and venues around the world including Turkey, Jordan (where he played for the royal family), South America, Canada, Norway, Finland, and all over Europe. John was chosen by the United States Information Agency and the Kennedy Center to represent the United States as a Jazz Ambassador on a tour of South America.

John has played and recorded with some of the finiest Jazz, Latin, and R&B musicians and has learned something from each and every one of them. This diversity of influence and experience is reflected in his latest project and first recording as a leader, “Descarga in New York,” released in August 2001 on Khaeon World Music. Together with his Trio (the gifted pianist/composer Luis Perdomo and the powerhouse drummer Dafnis Preito) and special guest percussionist, Richie Flores and the tenor saxophonists Ravi Coltrane, John has created a strong musical statement which highlights his prodigious talents as a bassist--both acoustic and electric-composer, arranger, and and producer.

Benitez was the bassist on Ray Barretto’s last record “Standards Rican-ditioned,” in 2006, which was a set of jazz standards performed by an all Puerto Rican ensemble, which incidentally included the late Hilton Ruiz on piano.

Although Benitez is extremely fluid in the jazz idiom, he excels at interpreting the rhythms and styles of his native Afro-Caribbean region and the entire Pan American music book. As he puts it himself, “For me it's all the same, one great dance music, all the Caribbean, South America and New Orleans are but an extension of African music, music with that special bounce. That's what I like the most.” John Benitez, an excellent example of a true musician, an educator, artist, gentleman and a spiritual human being.