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A bit of Bronx jazz takes over Flushing

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May 9 marked a triumphant return visit to the main stage at Flushing Town Hall for Jerry Gonzalez and his Grammy-nominated Fort Apache Band. Gonzalez and his musical cadre made this great performance space come alive with a special blend of Latin musical flavor reminiscent of their first memorable visit about five years ago.

Though this visit was without his famous brother and electric double bassist, Andy, the multi-talented fluglehorn­/trumpeter and percussionist, led his ensemble of the great young Puerto Rican bassist John Benitez, tenor saxophonist Joe Ford, drummer Adam Cruz and pianist Larry Willis through two sets of eclectic Afro-Cuban-centered rhythms that thoroughly captivated the standing-room-only audience.

Each musician in this ensemble, whether soloing or partaking in a call and response portion of a number, demonstrated his virtuosity of the genre in a fashion best described as intensely robust — always tight and at moments sensual and romantically smooth.

Gonzalez, with his relaxed but controlled leadership, forayed on congas and horns while allowing an appropriate amount of space for Benitez to really swing on bass and for Willis to magically mystify and mesmerize the room with his delicate and intensely beautiful keyboarding. From the opening number to the very last, with the tunes “Udade Armarga” (the bitter truth), the Pedro Flores gem “Obsession,” Thelonious Monk’s “Nutty” and “Ugly Beauty,” and the ballad “Siempre Junto a Ti,” the fans were given some musical memories that are sure to last.

This performance concluded the two-part Latin musical series, which was presented in conjunction with the continuing Smithsonian Institute’s multimedia exhibit entitled “Latin Jazz: La Combinacion Perfecta.”

The next musical gift is guaranteed to please the palate of jazz aficionados who really dig the kind of lyrics made famous by the late great vocalists Sarah Vaughn, Billy Holiday and Joe Williams. On Friday, June 20, “Little Jimmy Scott,” a recently rediscovered vocal phenomenon, will captivate those who really listen to the great jazz stylists. Scott has been the inspiration of many contemporary jazz artists like songstress Nancy Wilson.

This event also marks the end of an era for patrons of the arts in Queens as the executive director of Flushing Town Hall and the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, JoAnn Jones, retires from that post at the end of June.

Check the listings or call Flushing Town Hall for tickets at 718-463-7700, Ext. 222.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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