Jerry Gonzalez y los Piratas del Flamenco(Sunnyside Records)

Jerry Gonzalez y los Piratas del Flamenco

Released June 29, 2004

Grammy Nominee for Best Latin Jazz Album 2005




Backed by a cadre of Flamenco musicians, including acoustic and electric guitarists Nino Josele and Israel Sandoval, Israel Suárez “Piraña,” a master of the cajón – a wooden, box-like percussion instrument – and the great cantador Diego El Cigala, Gonzalez explores the interlocking inventions and dimensions of these Spanish and American musical genres.

The traditional “Hubo Un Lugar” features Gonzalez’s buttery horn overdubbed over his congas, complimented by Josele’s sinewy guitar lines. “Rosa Para Julia,” written for Jerry’s mother, is a zesty rumba, while “En El Corazón De Pescaderías,” is a mid-tempoed bulería finessed by Gonzalez’s muted, Milesian musings and his own equally impressive cajón playing. On “Gitanos De La Cava,” and Puerto Rican composer Pedro Flores’s song “Obsesion,” – with Gonzalez’s younger brother Andy on bass – Cigala’s impassioned Cante Hondo cries parallel Gonzalez’s golden horn. “Pirates de Lucia” is a hypnotically syncopated tribute to the legendary guitarist Paco de Lucia. “Donnali” is the Latin jazz/flamenco translation of Charlie Parker’s bop classic ‘Donna Lee, and “Monk’s Soniquette,” is transformed from Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Dream” into a festive tablao, peppered with the distinct and intricate flamenco handclaps called palmas.

Track Listing:

1. Hubo un Lugar (Traditional) 5:17

2. Rosa Para Julia 5:01

3. En el Corazó de Pescaderías 6:31

4. Gitanos de la Cava 5:51

5. Pirata de Lucia 5:08

6. Donnalli (Charlie Parker) 3:48

7. Monk Soniquete (Thelonious Monk) 4:10

8. Al Abordaje 8:09

9. Obsesion (Pedro Flores) 9:05


Jerry Gonzalez: trumpet, congas, percussion, cajón

Nino Josele: flamenco guitar

Israel Sandoval: electric guitar

Israel Suarez “PIRAÑA”: percussions

Andy Gonzalez: bass

Piratas Del Flmaenco: palmas, vocals

Juan Jose Suarez Paquete: flamenco guitar

Diego El “Cigala” (special guest): vocals

Recorded in February 2001, at Music & Media, NY, and Musiquina, Madrid, Spain

Producer: Javier Limón


Jimi Hendrix, of rock guitar fame, once led a group called a Band of Gyspys, who were really a bunch of American guys. On Jerry Gonzalez y Los Piratas del Flamenco, Jerry Gonzalez, the New York-born, Puerto Rican trumpeter/percussionist, goes for the real thing, steering a group of Gitano (Iberian Peninsula) gypsy musicians through an enchantingly spare program that mixes Afro-Cuban and American jazz sensibilites with traditional Spanish flamenco.
Says Gonzalez: “In flamenco, their thing is accoustic and simple; you don’t want to put too much in there.”
He followed that plan, keeping it simple and accoutic, mixing in his trumpet with the flamenco guitar, cajon (a box-like percussion instrument), and vocals, creating a beautifully spare and remarkably organic sound.
Simple: Most of the tracks are just trumpet (mostly muted, Miles Davis-like: Sketches of Spainminus the Gil Evans orchestrations, comes to mind at times here), cajon and/or conga, and flamenco guitar, and throw in the Indian tablas on “Pirata De Lucia.” So it’s mostly human flesh on stretched skin or wood, plus the vibration of a lower lip channeled through the loops of the brass horn, and fingers on strings. Simple, organic, steeped in the Spanish flamenco tradition, stirred (but not blended) with New World jazz sounds that originated with African rhythms. The result is captivating.

Along with the traditional song “Hubo Un Lugar” and his own compositions, Gonzalez morphed Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Dream” into “Monk’s Soniquete” and Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee” into “Donnali,” with almost surreal—but oddly beautiful—results.
This set is perfection, an unwaveringly focused vision that produced music that sounds inevitable, in spite of the seemingly disparate elements involved. One of the appeals is the “you can’t do that” factor; you can’t put congas or trumpet or tablas into a flamenco mix, or make gypsies out of Monk or Yardbird. But apparently you can—or Jerry Gonzalez can; and he comes out of the project sounding like a genius.
Pen this one in—with indelible ink—on the top ten of year list.

Dan McClenaghan (All About Jazz)