“Like James Carter, Cuban saxist Yosvany Terry has a voice on several axes, but alto is his specialty. He’s capable of making Afro-Cuban jazz seem folksy and modernistic all at once.” – Time Out New York
In saxophonist and composer Yosvany Terry’s music, the traditional sounds of his native Cuba fuse with fiery post-bop, sophisticated harmonies, and avant-garde innovation. Yosvany grew up in a family of performers steeped in musical tradition and learned from his father, Eladio “Don Pancho” Terry, a renowned violinist, bandleader, and master of the chekeré. A graduate of Cuba’s prestigious National School of Art and the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory, Yosvany founded the influential group Columna B and performed with many giants of Cuban music. Yosvany moved to New York in 1999, and the excitement and inspiration he found there are reflected on his 2006 album Metamorphosis. At the forefront of a group of young Cuban musicians who have recently infused the New York scene with a new creative energy, Yosvany has recently collaborated with pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. In his latest project, Ye-dé-gbé, Terry explores the Afro-Caribbean Arará musical tradition in a suite of compositions for a jazz ensemble with African percussion.
What is the first recording you remember hearing as a child?
It was at the age of five when decided I wanted to become a professional musician, given that my father, who’s a violinist and play chekeré, used to practiced every week. I used to go to see him playing with my brother all the time.
Who is your greatest musical influence?
My greatest influence as musician is Bela Bartok and Hermeto Pascoal. From them and the rest of the very long list of other people, I learnt about how music should be a live entity that communicates beyond words and languages.
What’s the last book you’ve read?
The last book I read was “Biografia de un Cimarron.” In English it would be “Biography of a Runaway Slave,” by Miguel Barnet.
What’s your favorite jazz venue?
What’s your favorite thing about being a Stanford Jazz Workshop faculty member?
The most attracting thing to me is that I get to listen to a lot of young students that later will become pros. I also enjoy the networking that occurs during and after the workshop.
If you were to describe your music as a color, what color would it be and why?
Violet and is because within itself you can see the rainbow.