Latin jazz as reflected through the performance practices of Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)


Music Studio and Jazz

First Committee Member

Whit Sidener - Committee Chair


The music and history of Jerry Gonzalez's Fort Apache Band, as it pertains to the broad spectrum of Latin jazz, is the purpose of this study. A brief history of Latin jazz was given. Special attention was given to the method of rhythmic organization, known as clave (not to be confused with the instruments known as claves). The author presented musical excerpts from Ragtime piano music and Bebop tunes as they pertain to the development of Latin jazz.The author tracked the musical development and careers of the brothers, and founding members, Jerry and Andy Gonzalez; including their musical background and training, early sideman work with seminal figures in both Jazz and Latin music, and other artistic events that led to them forming the Fort Apache Band. A chronology and examination of their recordings on the Enja, Sunnyside, and Milestone/Fantasy record labels was presented. The backgrounds of other key members in the lineage of the Fort Apache Band was also given. Musical examples of various stylistic attributes of the band were exhibited.A full-length transcription of an entire song, Little Rootie Tootie, by Thelonious Monk, from their 1989 Sunnyside Records release Rumba Para Monk, was made and prepared by the author and included as an appendix. The harmony, melody, and form of the Monk composition were analyzed. Important traits of the Fort Apache Band's performance style were analyzed, including each instrument's role, Jazz performance aspects, and Latin performance aspects. Traditional methodology, such as Roman numeral harmonic analysis, and discussion of chord/scale relationships in solo Jazz performance, were applied. For an analysis of the band's adherence to the clave rhythm, a non-traditional methodology was utilized by using arrows to show the rhythmic alignment of various instruments' parts with the clave rhythm. A selected bibliography pertaining to the research is included.This work also includes, as appendicies, a glossary of terms that pertain to this music and a flow chart documenting the various influences that led to the formation of the Fort Apache Band. Additionally, a notation guide for percussion as a component to the transcription, a lead sheet of the Thelonious Monk composition Little Rootie Tootie, and a consent form to release the transcription for this essay are also included as appendicies.


Biography; Music; Education, Music

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