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A TRIBUTE TO THE FORT APACHE BAND

Jerry González & Miguel Blanco

Ref.: Youkali 097

 

Un mito entre nosotros. Una grabación histórica.

JERRY GONZÁLEZ, leyenda viva, pieza imprescindible en la creación y el desarrollo del concepto “Latin Jazz” desde Nueva York y compañero de escenarios (y aventuras) de una abrumadora e interminable lista de nombres míticos de la mejor música popular de todos los tiempos, que incluye – por citar solo a unos pocos – a Jaco Pastorius, Eddie Palmieri, Tito Puente, McCoy Tyner, Chet Baker, Israel López "Cachao", Dizzy Gillespie, The Beach Boys, Freddie Hubbard, Archie Shepp, Paco de Lucía, George Benson, Ray Barretto, Chico O'Farrill, Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, Paquito D'Rivera, Diego “El Cigala”, Andrés Calamaro o Enrique Morente, una vez más junto al barcelonés  MIGUEL BLANCO, figura clave en la evolución del Jazz Latino en nuestro país y músico exquisito de altura universal, vuelven a unir sus talentos en su espléndida segunda obra discográfica para Big Band. Esta vez, con un especialísimo repertorio dedicado a rendir tributo a una de las bandas más arriesgadas, innovadoras y fundamentales en la historia del Jazz Latino: THE FORT APACHE BAND, mítica agrupación formada en NY por el propio Jerry y su hermano Andy a finales de la década de los 70.

Son muchos los elementos que hacen de "A Tribute To The Fort Apache Band" algo excepcional: Un JERRY GONZÁLEZ en un desbordante momento artístico y creativo, que se recrea en los  grandes amores de su vida musical, entre Nueva York y Cuba, entre España y Puerto Rico, entre lo clásico y lo nuevo… Y un MIGUEL BLANCO en estado de gracia, derrochando su devoto conocimiento y dominio del Jazz Latino en unos deslumbrantes arreglos, que captan al vuelo la pura esencia y la sabrosura de aquel gozoso espíritu… Con ellos, una banda de ensueño, que reúne varias generaciones de los mejores músicos cubanos afincados en España (el genial pianista Javier Massó “Caramelo”, el joven e innovador saxofonista Ariel Brínguez, o el rumbero de Matanzas Daniel Aldama…) junto a lo más granado del Jazz Español (el contrabajista Javier Colina, el batería Marc Miralta…).

Y, como no podía ser de otra manera, la química resultante de estos elementos es, sencillamente única. Explosiva. Genial. Un disco para la Historia.

 

***

 

“A lot of people in Spain tell me they’re happy
I came and stayed, because I put a chip
on everybody’s ass
and made them strive
for more.”

Jerry González, 2011.

 

The back story of this meeting of trumpeter-conguero Jerry González and arranger Miguel Blanco descends from three recordings that González made with his Fort Apache Band—Andy  González, his brother, on bass, Joe Ford and Carter Jefferson on saxophones, Larry Willis on piano and Steve Berrios on drumset—at the turn of 1990s in New York City that established a new paradigm for Latin Jazz. On Rumba para Monk, Earthdance, and Moliendo Café, the Apaches addressed hardcore swing expression with an intense clarity evocative of avatars like Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey and Miles Davis, and interpreted with idiomatic authority an array of Pan-American popular and folkloric songs through the lens of pre-Castro recordings by iconic Cuban practitioners like Tata Güines, Cachao, Peruchín and Arsenio Rodríguez. Devoid of ethnic chauvinism, the González brothers—and the Apaches—claimed a sibling relationship to both musical families.

Soon after he relocated from New York City to Madrid in 2000, González began to intersect with key figures of Spain’s nuevo flamenco community,  among them guitar legend Paco de Lucía, flamenco-meets-jazz pioneer Chano Domínguez, and Gitano cantaor Diego El Cigala and his guitar partner, Niño Josele, who dug his plangent trumpet voice and earthy clave knowledge, his way of sliding into a note, his harmonic erudition, his rumbero soulfulness. In 2004, González documented his multi-lingual investigations with El Cigala and Josele on the kinetic CD Jerry González y los Piratas del Flamenco.

During these early years, González also assembled the quartet of Madrid-based Cuban expatriates with whom he continues to refract the rhythmic codes that bedrocked the aesthetics both of Fort Apache and its mid-’70s predecessor, Grupo Folklórico y Experimental Nuevayorquino. How thoroughly González schooled them in the nuances of their generational predecessors is apparent on the eponymous 2010 recording, Jerry González y el Comando de la Clave, on which the members—Javier “Caramelo” Massó on piano; Alain Pérez on electric bass; and Kiki Ferrer on drums—stretch out on the repertoire with a loose, yet grounded, “contemporary” feel.

Joined by a pan-generational cast of Cuban and Spanish colleagues from his Iberian journey, González recontextualizes his lineage on A Tribute to the Fort Apache Band, addressing eight  bespoke charts of choice Apache repertoire by arranger Miguel Blanco, his collaborator on the 2006 Universal Music recording, Jerry González & Miguel Blanco Music for Big Band, re-released and remastered by Youkali Music in 2012.

The set-opener, “Agüeybaná,” also launched the 1979 album Ya Yo Me Curé; González has played Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” extensively but never recorded it. For Joe Ford’s “Earthdance” and Ron Carter’s “Eighty-One,” Blanco harmonized transcriptions of solos uncorked by González and Ford on Earthdance, which also provides the source recording of Thelonious Monk’s “Let’s Call This.” Himself a devotee of, among others, Gil Evans, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones and Oliver Nelson, Blanco orchestrates all of them—and his own “Rumba y Consecuencia” and “Sueños Vampíricos”—with a bracing array of ingenious soli and shout choruses, reharmonized motifs, stop-on-a-dime shifts of tempo and meter, and lush brass and woodwind voicings. Various gigs during the first half of 2014 with the personnel appearing herein provided beta-testing opportunities.

The ensemble does justice to the arrangements. González produces five solos on flugelhorn, one on trumpet, and two on congas, displaying customary melodic soulfulness and harmonic authority on the horns, and the fat, big-bottomed swing that characterizes his tonal personality on the drums.

Pianists Caramelo (“Sueños Vampíricos”) and Albert Sanz (“Ugly Beauty” and “Footprints”) present contrasting voices. Bassist Javier Colina, a member of González’s trio (as is drummer Marc Miralta), uncorks vivid, creative basslines in both swing (“Footprints”) and tumbao (“Rumba y Consecuencia”) feels. On “Agüeybaná,” American expat trombonist Norman Hogue evokes the feel of his tenure with Conjunto Libre—which Andy González co-led and music-directed with master timbalero Manny Oquendo for 35 years— in a trombone exchange with Santi Cañada. Tenor saxophonists Dani Juárez and Ariel Brínguez offer intense, cogent solos on, respectively, “Earthdance” and “Rumba y Consecuencia.” Electric guitarist Israel Sandoval, an alumnus of the Los Piratas del Flamenco group, sound-paints imaginatively on “Let’s Call This” and “Sueños Vampíricos .”

González observes how interesting it was to play with Spanish and Cuban musicians of diverse backgrounds and generations. What the 65-year-old master doesn’t mention is that their fresh, resourceful responses to his corpus speaks volumes about his impact on his adopted home, not  least as a living embodiment of how to springboard from past accomplishments to the next step.

Ted Panken


 

 

A TRIBUTE TO THE FORT APACHE BAND
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