Jerry González took a global view of jazz in creating his unique brand of improvised music. While his trumpet and flügelhorn reflected the influence of Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, his personal cultural roots gave him a natural understanding of Afro-Cuban rhythms.
As he explained to The Detroit News, "I am bilingual -- I speak Spanish and English. I can play the blues and I can play the rumba." Launching his musical career in 1970 as a member of Dizzy Gillespie's band, González briefly joined Eddie Palmieri in the group El Son the following year. He soon left to join timbale player Manny Oquendo's band, Conjunto Libre. Although he formed his own group, Ya Yo Me Cure, in 1980, González didn't come into his own as a bandleader until forming Jerry González & the Fort Apache Band with his brother and bassist Andy and drummer Steve Barrios. After recording two albums at European jazz festivals, the group came into its own with its third release, Rumba Para Monk, in 1989. In addition to topping the worldbeat group category in a readers' poll conducted by Down Beat, the album was named Jazz Album of the Year by the Academie du Jazz in France. González performed and or recorded with a lengthy list of jazz artists, including Tony Williams, McCoy Tyner, Kenny Dorham, Anthony Braxton, Tito Rodriguez, Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Paquito D'Rivera, and Machito. Born in New York City, González moved to Spain in 2000. He died of smoke inhalation from a fire in his Madrid home on October 1, 2018; Jerry González was 69 years old. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi