Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"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 Spain minus 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." -AllAboutJazz
JazzTimes (pp.89-90) - "The production is sparse, but somehow bold and three-dimensional."
JazzTimes (p.104) - "The production is sparse but somehow bold and three-dimensional."
Personnel: Jerry Gonzalez (trumpet, congas, percussion); Diego el Cigala (vocals); Juan José "Paquete" Suárez (flamenco guitar); Israel "Piraña" Suarez (tabla, percussion); Israel Sandoval (guitar, electric guitar); Niño Josele (flamenco guitar).
Recording information: Music & Media, NY (02/2001); Musiquina, Madrid, Spain (02/2001).
Photographer: Christopher Drukker.
In general, flamenco music has not readily lent itself to fusion experiments, but that clearly didn't stop multi-instrumentalist Jerry Gonzalez from trying. With Gonzalez's percussion and breathy, Miles Davis-inspired trumpet phrases intertwining with flamenco guitarist Nino Josele's tasteful lines, JERRY GONZALEZ Y LOS PIRATAS DE FLAMENCO blends Spain's traditional form with bop-inflected jazz, meditative balladry, and Latin-charged grooves.
For the most part, the music is wonderfully spare and calming, evoking dim, smoky Spanish cafes and dusty Andalusian landscapes. Takes on two bebop tunes, Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee" ("Donnali") and Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Dream" ("Monk Soniquete"), pick up the tempo a bit, with Josele's guitar suddenly sounding like Charlie Christian performing at a classical recital. "Gitanos de la Cava" and "Obsesion" feature the singing of Diego "El Cigala", which, with its Middle Eastern inflections, keeps the program varied and fresh. This is unique, accessible fusion music that proves Gonzalez's skill for bridging multiple cultures with jazz.