Andy González, for the past half-century, one of the premier bass players in Latin music, died in the Bronx, New York, Thursday. According to his sister, Eileen González-Altomari, quoted by The New York Times, the causes were pneumonia and complications of diabetes. He was 69.
González had long made his mark as a key member of The Fort Apache Band, a group he founded with his late brother, trumpeter and conguero Jerry Gonzalez; and also Conjunto Libre, a stellar dance-music band led by timbalero Manny Oquendo but which González helped found and direct.
“The Fort Apache Band is the most important ensemble in the history of Latin Jazz,” said multi-Grammy winning pianist, composer and bandleader Arturo O’Farrill, founder and director of the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. “They could stop a groove and turn around on a dime. They could go from an Art Blakey swing to a guaguancó on a dime, and it was as authentic as if you had two different bands. Nobody in the history of this music had as much respect for both traditions as these guys.”
And yet, Gonzalez’s influence is broader and more profound than that.