Latin jazz pioneer, Jerry González, dead at 69

He led the Fort Apache Band for nearly 30 years.

Legendary Latin jazz trumpeter and percussionist Jerry González died in Madrid, where he lived, on Monday (Oct 1), according to an official statement released by his label Sunnyside Records. He was 69.

“The Sunnyside family is grieving today as we have lost our beloved friend and inspiration, the great Jerry González,” the label tweeted. “For over three decades, Jerry has been a constant joy in our lives through his music, his friendship and his undeniable spirit. We will miss him dearly.”

As reported by Spanish media, the multi-talented jazzman had suffered from smoke inhalation when a fire broke out in his house. He was rushed to the hospital, but doctors were unable to save him.

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Born in Manhattan, the musician spent most of his childhood in the Bronx before he moved to Spain in 2000. González was of Puerto Rican descent and was regarded as a highly influential figure in the Latin music movement, thanks to his unique combination of jazz with Afro-Cuban elements. In his own words, “The spirit of mother Africa traveled to the Caribbean, South America, North America and the world, evolved individually and reemerged spiritually as one.”

In 1980, González and his brother Andy co-founded the Fort Apache Band, one of his more prominent ensembles. The group released a string of albums, including Crossroads and Pensativo, both of which were nominated for Grammys in 1994 and 1995, respectively.

RIP, Jerry Gonzalez. Take a listen to his discography below:

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