Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band

Latin jazz with a dark heart

The shiny, happy Latin-jazz pabulum usually served up around here (Poncho Sanchez, Tito Puente in his dotage, etc.) is fine… until you’ve tasted the more powerfully spiced variety. Tonight you will. And I mean that in the imperative. Erupting from the Bronx 25 years ago, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band moved beyond a stale standards-gone-salsa formula into fiercer, undanceable realms. On trumpet and congas, Gonzalez has some of Miles’s aloof, mercurial intensity, and his saxophonists (currently Joe Ford) play a more dangerous game than the usual Latin good-time guys. During a performance at Ballard’s Backstage in 1992 (the last time the band played here), Gonzalez rose from the congas in mid-solo to kick over the microphones in fury. Fifteen years later, Earshot director John Gilbreath—curator of EMP’s Jazz in January program—still calls the show “one of the all-time most exciting I’ve seen,” and I would agree. Sadly two of the band’s key figures—Jerry’s brother Andy on bass and pianist Larry Willis—won’t be along this time, replaced by the young Cuban-American brothers Zaccai and Luques Curtis. They’re heavily schooled in the Fort Apache style, though. And if you aren’t yet, now’s the time. Sky Church at EMP/SFM, Seattle Center, 325 Fifth Ave. N., 770-2702, $12-$15. 7 p.m. MARK D. FEFER

Sat., Jan. 19, 7 p.m., 2008

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