Ben Lapidus and Pablo Mendendez with special guests at the Havana Jazz Festival 2019.
Note: Ben’s new book “New York and the International Sound of Latin Music 1940-1990” is nothing short of SPECTACULAR. You can check it out here.
I can’t overstate how wonderful this book is. A full 360 degree view of one of the greatest music scenes that ever was: the musicians, the educators, the venues, even the instrument makers. Ben tells the WHOLE story. Beautiful.
Bassist Andy Gonzalez passed away on April 9, 2020 at the age of 69 from pneumonia and complications of diabetes.
Gonzalez was born January 1, 1951 in Manhattan, New York; his father Geraldo was a singer in salsa bands and his older brother Jerry Gonzalez (born 18 months before Andy) became a notable trumpeter and percussionist.
After a brief stint on violin in school, Andy Gonzalez switched permanently to bass, having early associations with the bands of Ray Barretto and Eddie Palmieri.
In 1974 he co-founded Conjunto Libre with the timbales player Manny Oquendo, mixing together salsa and jazz; he was the band’s musical director for 35 years, recording a dozen albums.
In the early 1980s, Andy and Jerry Gonzalez formed the Fort Apache Band, an influential and innovative group that invigorated Afro-Cuban jazz by infusing it with modern jazz and r&b, switching spontaneously between the idioms, all of it propelled by Andy’s bass.
A prolific and versatile musician, Gonzalez was on more than 700 sessions through the years including with Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente,
Hilton Ruiz, Houston Person, Machito, Steve Turre, Don Byron and both Chico and Arturo O’Farrill.
Health problems forced him out of action for a time in 2004 but he made a comeback and one of his last sessions was his long overdue recording debut as a leader in 2016 (Entre Colegas).
Here is Andy Gonzalez from the Entre Eolegas sessions, performing “Misty” with a group also including trumpeter Carlos Abadie, singer Manuel Alejandro Carro, guitarist Ben Lapidus, and a full percussion section.