Saxophonist Yosvany Terry burst onto the jazz and contemporary music scene in New York in 1999, where he “helped to redefine Latin jazz as a complex new idiom.” (New York Times).
Born in Cuba, the musician-composer-educator incorporates American jazz traditions with his own Afro-Cuban roots to produce performances and compositions that flow from the rhythmic and hard-driving avant-garde to sweet-sounding lyricism. He brings his inimitable style to stages all over the world, performing regularly with the Yosvany Terry Quartet and Yosvany Terry and the Afro-Caribbean Quintet, as well as with the Gonzalo Rubalcaba Quintet and Eddie Palmieri and the Latin Jazz Ensemble. Yosvany has also worked with some of the biggest names in the business, including Roy Hargrove, Steve Coleman, Chucho Valdes, Silvio Rodriguez, Branford Marsalis, Paquito de Rivera, Dave Douglas, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Avishai Cohen, Meshell Ndegeocello, Cassandra Wilson, Israel “Cachao” Lopez, Wycliffe Gordon, Dafnis Prieto, Taj Mahal, Giovanni Hidalgo, David Murray, Joe Lovano, and Paul Simon.
His current project, “Today’s Opinion” (Criss Cross, April 2012), is his second solo album. The project continues the exciting trajectory he established in Latin jazz as a “young composer and bandleader with a distinctive personal vision” with his inaugural release Metamorphosis (Ewe Records 2005). Earlier, with his group Columna B he recorded Twisted Noon and Enclave. Yosvany has also been featured on the CDs of Avishai Cohen (At Home, Lyla and Unity), Steve Coleman (Genesis and The Sign and the Seal), Brian Lynch (the Grammy-Award winning Con Clave 2) and Gonzalo Rubalcaba (Avatar).
Yosvany, who is also a talented chekeré player, received his earliest training from his father, Eladio “Don Pancho” Terry, violinist and Cuba’s leading player of the chekeré. After mastering this Afro-Cuban percussion instrument, he went on to receive his classical music training from the prestigious National School of Arts (ENA) and Amadeo Roldan Conservatory in Havana.
Among the many commissions he has received as a composer are the Chamber Music America “Connecting Communities Residency Program” commission funded through Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, in collaboration with Jazzmobile and Harlem Stage; Harlem Stage’s “Meet the Composer for New Music” commission to write the music of the Opera Makandal; and the Jerome Foundation/Jazz Gallery Composers’ Series commission for a work for a large ensemble. He received the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors/New York State Music Fund’s grant through Stanford Jazz Workshop for Yedégbé, a suite of Arará music, music brought by African slaves to Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean.
Terry has taught at prestigious institutions across the United States and Canada. He is a lecturer at Princeton University, a faculty member at New York City’s New School University and the Harlem School of the Arts, and has served as a resident instructor at the Stanford Jazz Workshop at Stanford University since 1995. Additionally, he has taught master classes at the University of Texas at Austin and delivered workshops at the Brubeck Institute at the University of the Pacific (Stockton, California), the Banff Music Center (Alberta, Canada) and the Royal Conservatory of Music (Winnipeg, Canada).
Yosvany Terry Septet, Metamorphosis
(EWE Records, 2006)
About the Monks
(Zoho Music, 2005)
(Razdaz Records, 2005)
Tells of the Stuttering Mime
(11:11 Records, 2004)
El Negro and Robby,
Third & Four World War:
Live in Perugia
(EWE Records, 2004)
Avishai Cohen, Lyla (Razdaz, 2004)
The International Vamp Band,
(Concord Records, 2001)
Yosvany Terry Quintet,
(Bombo Music Production, 2000)
(Mas Y Mas, 1998)
Steve Coleman & The Mystic Rhythm
The Sign and the Seal
Steve Coleman & The Mystic Rhythm Society,
(Blue Note, 1997)
(Tonga Records, 1997)
Birds are Returning (Jazz Focus Records, 1997)
Gema y Pavel,
Cosa de Broma
(Nube Negra, 1996)
Jesus Alema y Cubanismo,
Jesus Alemañy y Cubanismo,
Yosvany Terry Cabrera
Metamorphosis – Liner Notes
Describing and explaining music has always been a very difficult task generally left to musicologists and students of the science of music. Very rarely does one hear about the experience of the creative process from the actual composer himself. In these first liner notes of mine, I would like to try to relate in a few words what it meant for me to work on this project with musicians whom I so much admire, and at the same time somehow talk about the music.
My journey or initiation into music began with my father, best known as Eladio “Don Pancho” Terry, who introduced me to the violin at the age of 5, and with the constant support of my mother, Lidia Cabrera. “Don Pancho” was the founder and director of the “Orquesta Maravillas de Florida”, one of the most important charanga bands from the countryside of Cuba based in Camaguey, my hometown. It would have been impossible for me not to decide to go into music what with my father practicing the violin and chekere every day in the house and then going to see him play with the band whenever they were performing in our municipality. I therefore decided at the age of 5 that I wanted to be a violinist playing popular music, changed to the alto saxophone, entering the Escuela Vocational de Arte Luis Casa Romero, in Camaguey, and later finishing my studies at the ENA (Escuela National de Arte) in Havana. I therefore began the journey that resulted in the making of this record, which reflects the continuity in my process of learning and formation as a musician.
The sound that describes this recording is really made up of all the musical influences that I’ve experienced since the beginning of my studies in Cuba, with all of it’s vast cultural heritage and richness, combined with my musical growth in New York during the past five years. Only in such a multicultural city as New York is it possible to give birth to such a project made up of so many diverse musicians from so many dissimilar places.
The compositions on this record reflect portraits and experiences of life in Havana and New York, while at the same time recreate the stamp of many other cities I’ve passed through touring as a musician. Inevitably one learns from what one comes into contact with, a concert, book, film, landscape, painting, hanging out late at night, etc…It’s for this that the title couldn’t be more descriptive of all these sensations: Metamorphosis, signifying the journey of transformation and learning, the moments of doubt, the necessary and unnecessary reflections, the patience and faith which alone helps us to enjoy that very slow process called “creation”. Understanding and enjoying these moments are the reason for which we anxiously await the next day to continue trying again and again.
Within the Yoruban tradition developed in West Africa, specifically in the region actually occupied by Nigeria, exist the three sacred drums with which all of the deities of the Yoruban religious pantheon are invoked. The Iya is the largest and considered the mother, the middle-sized Itotele is considered the father, while the Okónkolo is the smallest and the son, who is supposed to provide a generally stabile pattern over which his parents can have a sophisticated rhythmic conversation. Considering the role that it plays within the three drums of the set, it is the Okónkolo parts which are learned first. “Okónkolo Concertante” was conceived as a great opportunity for it to take on its principal role, having written a concert piece for it as soloist, using one of its rhythmic movements.
“El Burlón (the Joker)”, begins with the elaboration of a rhythmic-harmonic motif which reminds me of the jest and satire of a buffoon; I wanted this character to conserve all his vivaciousness and astuteness and then add these traits to other musical concepts. Music doesn’t have to lose contact with the reality which surrounds us and which we live in every day life, nor the sense of humor which we can hear in all the great musicians since Bach, Mozart, Charlie Parker, Miles, Bartok, Trane, Debusssy, or Sonny Rollins…it’s this element that gives it life and allows it to be understood and accepted by any culture or country.
“Journey of Awareness” emerges from the transformation, the discovery of new harmonic concepts, sounds, information…to which I have been exposed in New York, with the intent of mixing it with the traditional afro-cuban culture from which I come. This features Pedro Martinez on vocals and all that he contributes through his knowledge of Yoruban culture, in a prayer dedicated to Obatalá.
“This Is It” represents the spirit and responsibility of taking tradition and expanding it with new rhythmic and aesthetic concepts. I truly believe that we can only create through the profound study of, and respect for, all that has preceded us. It was an honor for me to have the opportunity to record this piece with the great James Genus and the immeasurably talented Jeff “Tain” Watts. All the wisdom they brought to the project was fundamental towards the success of its sound.
“The Crying”, composed by my brother Yunior Terry Cabrera, has the quality and sound of a completely atemporal classical theme. It is one of the prettiest and more melancholic melodies that I’ve heard recently, and I thought that it would be the perfect complement for the record, having been conceived under the difficult circumstances of being geographically separated from loved ones. I’ve always thought it to be a very cinematographic theme.
“Subversive”, born in New York and very descriptive of the city and today’s sounds, identifies what the city represents to me. A confluent center of all the cultures of the world. This was the spirit I wanted to recreate through the different sections of the piece, creating an effect of unified sound.
I began thinking about “Transito a Full (Traffic Jam)” back in Havana, a city where during that time the traffic of cars first began to be felt, especially with the large buses obstructing the traffic, transforming the peaceful island panorama into something completely unknown for the majority of the people. It was the perfect moment for all of its popular characters to do whatever they wanted in the middle of this newfound tropical confusion.
“Rampa Abajo” La Rampa is the name of a street in downtown Havana which brings you to the Malecon (the wall that stops the sea from coming into the city) and also a meeting place for a large part of the youth of my generation, going to the Coppelia (a famous ice cream shop) and the Yara cinema. I thought its “farewell” character would be the best way of ending the record and at the same time leave the doors open for the next project.
*Production: Metamorphosis, 2005
Yosvany Terry- saxophone, chekeré
Luis Perdomo- piano
Dafnis Prieto- drums
Jeff “Tain” Watts- drums
Hans Glawishnig- bass
Yunior Terry- bass
Avishai Cohen- trumpet
Pedro Martinez- percussion, vocals
Mike Moreno- guitar