González, of Puerto Rican background, was a product of New York’s El Barrio, the hub of New York’s Puerto Rican community, and the cradle of transformed Afro-Cuban rhythms that gave birth to Salsa music and new Latin Jazz forms.
According to Madrid’s Civil Protection authorities (SAMUR), Gerald (Jerry) González died after a heart attack resulting from a fire in the building where he lived with his family, in the neighborhood of Lavapiés.
“He was a music genius,” said Spain’s General Association of Authors (SGAE). “With his Fort Apache band, he pioneered Latin jazz, and his collaboration with The Beach Boys, El Cigala, Andrés Calamaro and Martirio, among others, tell the story of cultural influencer.”
Jerry González, regarded as a giant of improvisation, had also collaborated with Tito Puente, Chet Baker, McCoy Tyner, Ray Barretto, Jaco Pastorius, Cachao and Paquito D’Rivera. His formation, Fort Apache, created, in the 1970’s. with his brother, bassist Andy González, was a seminal and transformative group in Latin Jazz.
After a conflicted life, which allowed to cultivate a tough persona, González had been able to overcome addictions and was living a successful and healthy life with his family. Spain had become his second home and he was revered there as an iconic star for his wealth of contributions fusing modern flamenco with Latin Jazz influences.