About Pepe

​Bassist Pepe Gonzalez is a performer, composer and teacher. He was the co-founder and bassist for the group Zapata in the late 60’s to mid-70’s. This diverse group was the first of its era to join African-Americans and Latin musicians together in Washington, DC. A prominent name in the Mid-Atlantic region and throughout the East Coast, Zapata had the honor of opening for such iconic acts as: Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Ramsey Lewis, Rashan Roland Kirk, Weather Report, the Isley Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, Gil Scott Heron, Red Bone and many others. Pepe has had the pleasure of playing countless Jazz Festivals in countries around the world, including Spain, France, Greece, Italy, the Soviet Union, and Curacao, and performing with many greats such as Maria Rodriguez, Hilton Ruiz, Bill Hardman & Junior Cook, Clifford Jordan, Pepper Adams, IMANI, Byron Morris & Unity, Deepak Ram, and Slide Hampton.

As a composer and recording artist, Pepe recorded his first CD entitled Looking Back in which he shared nine of original compositions dedicated to his family, mentors and heroes. He has been on over 30 recordings, including contributing his originals on Vinny Valentino’s and IMANI’s recordings.

Pepe has been teaching acoustic and electric basses privately along with Jazz History, Theory and Classical Bowing for 34 years. He has also been on the Jazz Faculty at the Levine School of Music for the past 28 years. Pepe has worked with Paul Carr as Assistant Director for the Maryland Jazz Academy for 20 years. There he directed one of two big bands, small ensembles and taught Jazz History. He has also offered countless Jazz and Latin Jazz Workshops in schools and universities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Pepe is a member of Tres Raizes – a conglomerate of Artists, Poets and Musicians – and a member of the American Poetry Museum in Washington, DC, where he’s had the honor of playing bass behind numerous poets.

Pepe has received many accolades for his performance and pedagogy. He received seven awards from WAMA for Best Latin Musician. He was named Outstanding Musician in the Community in 1998 by the D.C. Music Center. He was also awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by Young Arts. In 2022 Pepe was given the Ronnie Wells Jazz Service Award by the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival for his enduring commitment to the preservation of Traditional Jazz Music through his advocacy and education.