DownBeat Magazine – 2012-08 by Ned Sublette
Yosvany Terry - Today’s Opinion (Criss Cross jazz 1343)
Today’s Opinion, Yosvany Terry’s third title asa leader, is the latest dispatch from the ongoing redefinition of Latin jazz. Lyrical, complex and caffeinated, it combines the instrumentation and ground rules of the classic hard-bop quintet with the rhythmic savvy of Afro-Cuban music and long-arc compositional ambition. We’ve had a taste of this before: Three of Terry’s compositions were featured on Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s brilliant album Avatar. Terry (on alto and soprano) and Michael Rodríguez (trumpet) were the horns on that album, and the Terry-Rodríguez duo returns to frontline Today’s Opinion, along with mind- linked brother bassist Yunior Terry, pianist Osmany Paredes and drummer Obed Calvaire. Longtime collaborator Pedrito Martínez opens the set, affirming his commitment by chanting in the ritual language of Cuba’s Abakuá secret society (as Chano Pozo once did), and he reappears on congas for the album’s closer, “Son Contemporáneo.” On that number, Rubalcaba phones in his blessing on synth—the only outside overdub on the album, which was otherwise recorded in two ensemble sessions. Terry, who also plays shekere, has a practitioner’s comprehension of the Afro-Cuban religious repertoires, and the rhythmic acuity of this ensemble is impressive. Terry’s compositions explore structure as well as rhythm, melody and harmony. His orchestration wrings timbral earworms out of the quintet format via strategically weighted harmonic doublings, sometimes in minor seconds or clusters. The impact is maximized by Paredes, whose split-brain part calls on him to double a locked-in countertime ostinato with Yunior Terry’s bass while his right hand doubles the horns’ flying 32nd notes. This is physical, cerebral and spiritual music, with a lot of stories to tell. Today’s Opinion affirms that Yosvany Terry has become a composer and player of importance while the international community of clave is producing some of the most exciting music around. —Ned Sublette
Today’s Opinion: Summer Relief; Contrapuntístico; Inner Speech; Returning Home; Harlem Matinee; Suzanne; Another Vision Of Oji; Son Contemporáneo. (66:44)
Personnel: Yosvany Terry, saxophones, chekeré; Michael Rodríguez, trumpet; Osmany Paredes, piano; Yunior Terry, bass; Obed Calvaire, drums; Pedro Martínez, vocal (1), percussion (1, 6, 8); Gonzalo Rubalcaba, synthesizer (8).
Ordering info: crisscrossjazz.com
Pure Jazz Something Old, Something New…..excerpt
Vyvyl Man’s Spin #7
Finally, I point your attention to Yosvany Terry and his new CD, TODAY’S OPINION. This Cuban born composer and alto saxophone artist has crafted a turn in the direction of Afro-Cuban music of quantum proportion. Evolving from what feels like an Afro-Antillean liturgical invocation, the music smoothly and sophisticatedly transforms from a building ’typica’ into the hottest straight ahead imaginable. The effect is stunning. The drama in the contrast is not subtle: the urban Jazz is on fire with an unrelenting attack that includes reprised reference to the rural opening but slickly submerged in the flow of the unison horns and rhythm. Terry’s quintet combined the thunder and power of Blakey’s Messengers with the antiquity and excitement of Willie Bobo or Patato Valdez. I cannot over-emphasize the drama in the quintet’s sound. “I see this record as part of the musical continuity of all the great musicians and composers who have influenced me…” states Terry in his liner notes. Then follows a list of names as wide apart as Louis Armstrong and Egberto Gismonti and suddenly the magic in the music makes sense: Terry has synthesized everyone in his original sound. TODAY’S OPINION has it going on.
I had originally planned to review a Mongo Santa Maria album I recently found and a Dave Valentin live recording I feel is special, but how often does the occasion come along to present something new and really different? I was so moved by the freshness and the extreme degree of artistry on display with both Dr. Mambo and the Terry Quintet that I elected to be the bearer of good news for the future as opposed to a reviewer of the past. Modern Jazz has a new exponent in Yosvany Terry. His alto playing demonstrates a sincerely classical tutelage to all the greats on that instrument. He blows with confidence and nuanced control. There are no tricks; none of the canned stuff that passes for instant soul. None of the compositions on the CD permit it. The writing is complex and filled with vistas and stories. The group is a matched set of inquisitive artists stirring the charts for the maximum effects. The music is living tissue that left me hungry to experience them in performance. It’s music that steams your clothes; makes you sweat from neck-pecking. We are all accustomed to the drive in Afro-Cuban meters. Terry’s music is not that. He, to the best of my layman’s ear, has overwritten time signatures into straight ahead Jazz while keeping the percussion underpinnings so that everything seems to be going on at once. My analysis may be faulty as Republican ethics, but I guarantee the music is slammin’ and will not turn you loose. I predict a new direction in the post-bop progression and comfortably headed by the appreciation of the music as expressed by the Latin brothers. It carries everything sacred to the sound and leaves nothing behind. There are names to learn: Yosvany Terry, Michael Rodriguez, Osmany Paredes, Yunior Terry,Obed Calvaire, Pedro Martinez and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. They’ve got something hot and new. TODAY’S OPINION from me is that you will want to get up with it.
The New York City Jazz Record- Today’s Opinion (Criss Cross)
By Russ Musto
A leading figure among the generation of Cuban artists presently enriching the international jazz scene, saxophonist/composer Yosvany Terry continues to advance the music narrowly known as Latin jazz, with a style concurrently rooted in the AfroCuban traditions of his native land and motivated by the innovative imperatives of the contemporary jazz and modern improvised music flourishing in his adopted New York environs. On his latest release he leads trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, pianist Osmany Paredes, bassist Yunior Terry, drummer Obed Calvaire and conguero/vocalist Pedro Martinez through a program of originals, traversing expansive musical territory, from ancient to the future, with Martinez’ Santeria-inspired chant on the opening “Summer Relief” hearkening to the former and guest Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s astral keyboards on the concluding “Son Contemporeano” pointing towards the latter. Throughout, the group swings with passion and intelligence, their collective virtuosity bringing the leader’s varied compositions to triumphant realization. Terry has melded his diverse musical models – from Mozart to Machito, Debussy to Palmieri, Gismonti to Shorter – into an identifiable personal style that combines harmonic and rhythmic sophistication in a manner simultaneously intriguing and satisfying, as on the tour de force “Contrapuntistico”, with its exciting stylistic shifts. Switching to soprano from alto for his “Returning Home”, the composer proves himself equally capable of expressing his emotional breadth in a simpler, more conventional context. On “Harlem Matinee” he once again demonstrates the ability to bring tradition and modernity together, also evident on his “Inner Speech” and “Another Vision of Oji”, as well as brother Yunior’s “Suzanne”. This date is one of the more definitive efforts to originate in the New York melting pot this year.
For more information, visit crisscrossjazz.com. This group is at MoMA Sculpture Garden Jul. 15th. See Calendar.
Shook Magazine – UK 2012
Yosvany Terry – Today’s Opinion (Criss Cross)
Cuban born Yosvany Terry’s is a truly gifted musician-composer and educator. In recent years he has helped reshape the concept of Afro-Cuban music in the big apple fusing its roots with NYC Hard Bop, Avant Garde and beyond. This is is second album as a leader. Yosvany has worked with some of the biggest name in the business, including Roy Hargrove, Steve Coleman, Chucho Valdes, Eddie Palmieri, Avishai Cohen, Ernesto Simpson and Giovanni Hidalgo just to name a few. Mr Terry approach to composition is fearless and incredibly inspiring, his brilliant arrangements swing and shift very naturally into different time signatures, building sharp rhythmic tensions accompanied by beautiful melodies, intricate harmonies and unique lyricism.
The musicianship on this album is pretty spectacular, Mr Terry plays alto, soprano and chekeré with fellow Cuban brother Junior Terry on bass, Pedrito Martinez on percussion and vocals, Omani Paredes on piano, Mike Rodriguez on trumpet, Obed Calvaire on drums and outsider master pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba on ‘Son Contemporaneo’.
Today’s Opinion is pushing the boundaries and addresses both ancient and contemporary styles in a very cohesive way. Without a doubt one of the best Jazz album of 2012.
New York Times – 2012
A Résumé Centering on Latin Jazz, With Interests That Include Cultural Fusion
Yosvany Terry Quintet at the Jazz Standard
By NATE CHINEN Published: April 13, 2012
The emblematic tune in Yosvany Terry’s early set at the Jazz Standard on Wednesday night was the closer, “Summer Relief,” a slippery bit of cultural cross talk. It began with a Yoruba chant by the conga player Pedro Martínez, in a call-and-response with the band. A groove materialized, in irregular polyrhythm, and then came a coiled melody assigned to Michael Rodriguez on trumpet and Mr. Terry on alto saxophone.
Moments later the ground shifted again, to a crisp quintuple meter, and again, into headlong 4/4 swing: the rude and righteous pulse of New York hard bop, negotiated on its own terms. That added up to a lot of built-in convolutions for the first minute and a half of a song, though the ensemble made it feel bound by logic and bodily intuition.
Mr. Terry, a Cuban-born, conservatory-trained musician who moved to New York in 1999, has centered his career on such multilevel fluencies. In recent years, along with a few other bandleaders of similar background, he has helped reframe the sound of Afro-Cuban jazz in New York, reaching for a flexibly cerebral, harmonically advanced and culturally resonant kind of fusion. “Metamorphosis” (Ewe), his 2005 debut album, announced his intentions with a first-rate assembled crew.
“Summer Relief” opens his superior sophomore album, “Today’s Opinion” (Criss Cross), featuring the same working band that played this week’s engagement: Mr. Terry, Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Martínez, with Osmany Paredes on piano, Obed Calvaire on drums and Yunior Terry, Mr. Terry’s brother, on bass. (The group was billed at the Jazz Standard as a quintet, with Mr. Martínez as a featured guest.)
In performance and on record, the band’s established rapport makes a difference, rounding out the sharp-cornered complexities of Mr. Terry’s writing and giving the music a visceral punch.
There’s a lot rattling around in that music, some of it unexpected. “Inner Speech” suggested the distant call of Wynton Marsalis’s first acclaimed quintet. (Mr. Rodriguez made himself at home there, starting his solo in a murmur and gradually brightening and quickening his attack.)
“Returning Home,” a ballad with Mr. Terry on soprano saxophone, genuflected in the direction of Wayne Shorter. And “Contrapuntistico,” a miniature opus, had a winding melodic line, harmonized at tight intervals, with rhythm-section tension; it also featured a bracing improvisation by Mr. Paredes and a pugnacious back-and-forth between Mr. Terry and Mr. Rodriguez.
Over the past few years that same frontline has been featured in a quintet led by Gonzalo Rubalcaba, the brilliant Cuban pianist, bandleader and composer. Wednesday’s set began with the same tune that opens “Avatar,” Mr. Rubalcaba’s 2008 Blue Note album: “Looking in Retrospective,” a loosely funky concoction that phases in and out of tempo with shadowy grace.
Mr. Terry composed that tune, and he seemed to be reclaiming it here, issuing a reminder that for all the good he has gleaned from his apprenticeship with Mr. Rubalcaba, he has contributed something too.
JAZZWISE UK 2012
Yosvany Terry - Today’s Opinion (Criss Cross Jazz 1343)
Recorded October 2011
Terry (as,ss,chekere), Michael Rodriguez (t), Osmany Paredes (p) , Yunior Terry (b) ,Obed Calvaire (d) ,Pedro Martinez (perc,v);…..plus Gonzalo Rubalcaba (keys).
Yosvany Terry is currently a member of the Eddie Palmieri band. Born in central Cuba, he studied at the prestigious National School of Art and the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory. For the past 13 years he’s lived in New York and this is his first jass album as leader since “Metamorphosis” (Kindred Spirits) in 2006 which really impressed this writer. “Today’s Opinion” is a giant step forward. It’ s not a typical Criss Cross album, but it’s so much more than just another Latin jazz record. The opening track is perhaps the nearest to that category, but as it progresses and deepens, you know this record is going to be something special. This is an outstanding complex jazz record by the finest Cuban musicians in America. Yosvany, who has worked with, among others, Roy Hargrove, Dave Douglas, “Tain” Watts, Avishai Cohen, the legendary Columna B, Dafnis Prieto and Steve Coleman, is a brilliant alto and soprano player ( no slouch on tenor either) and the band with its strong African, Cuban and American influences- is in the same class as Colemans’ own Five Elements. His compositions harmonically influenced by great modern classical composers like Bartok and Prokoviev as well as the giants of modern jass rhythmically by what he grew up with and what he’s heard on his travels are as highly sophisticated as any jazz charts around today. His front line partner Michael Rodriguez (brother of pianist Robert, whose 2006 Rodriguez Brothers “Conversation” CD on Savant was so strong) , also with the Palmieri band, is as good as almost any of the current US top trumpeters. The rhythm section has a strong two-handed pianist (Paredes), Yosvany’s brother Yunior, now a formidable, strongly grooved bassist and the excellent Obed Calvaire (sometimes with Sean Jones’ froup) on drums, who sounds like a polyrythmic mix of Dafnis Prieto and Chris Dave. A jazz band of Cubans that plays with magnificent musicianship, passion aplenty with its heart on its sleeve, playing striking scores that sound even more interesting every time you listen. I repeat, it’s so much more than a Latin jazz record. It’s a great jazz CD.
Reviewed by Tony Hall
Jazzwise, UK June 2012
The Wall Street Journal 2012
April 6, 2012, 6:05 p.m.
“Playing to the Rhythm of Two Islands
Cuban Saxophonist Yosvany Terry Integrates the Music of His Youth and Jazz”
BY LARRY BLUMENFELD
On saxophonist Yosvany Terry’s kitchen table sat a syllabus for “West African Heritage Ensemble,” a course he teaches at the New School. According to the university’s website, the course “explores the rich musical heritage of West Africa” and its diaspora in the Americas, “paying special attention to internalizing rhythmic patterns and phrases,” thus enabling students to “apply West African concepts to their understanding of jazz and improvisation.”
Yosvany Terry at the Stanford Jazz Festival last summer
That also summarizes the thrust of Mr. Terry’s music, especially on “Today’s Opinion” (Criss Cross), a dazzling new CD grounded in both distinct formal traditions and abstract ideas. He’ll celebrate the album’s release Tuesday and Wednesday at Jazz Standard, where he once headlined a “New Dimensions in Latin Jazz” series.
Mr. Terry, 40, who was born in Cuba and moved to New York in 1999, doesn’t play Latin jazz. Rather, he extends an inherent cross-cultural Afro-centric dimension evident with renewed vigor on New York’s jazz scene since the late 1990s.
In 2000, Mr. Terry began leading a Jazz Gallery series featuring players including drummer Dafnis Prieto. Back in Cuba, Messrs. Terry and Prieto had been half of Columna B, a quartet of conservatory students. “That band was like a laboratory for us,” Mr. Terry said.
For Mr. Prieto, “Columna B was a way to support each other. We had all this tradition, all this new information, and a desire to create.”
Mr. Terry’s current Hamilton Heights apartment is just off Broadway, which runs the length of Manhattan. His childhood home, in Cuba’s Camagüey province, was near Carretera Central, the highway spanning the island. The rhythms and chants that infuse his compositions were “in the air growing up,” he said. “You participate in them before anyone sits you down to explain.”
His father, Eliado “Don Pancho” Terry, is a violinist with charanga groups, and a master of the chekeré, the beaded gourd used for percussion. Pancho would fill a plastic Coke bottle with beans and pull his three sons onstage to play their mock chekerés.
Mr. Terry, who started his musical studies on violin, picked up the saxophone at age 10. He began regular visits to the U.S. in 1995 through Stanford Jazz Workshop. There, he met alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, whose concepts profoundly affected his own music. Mr. Coleman also bought Mr. Terry his first ticket to New York.
Mr. Terry said drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts taught him to play slow tempos with force. Bassist Avishai Cohen urged him to pick up the chekeré again (he plays it on his new CD). During his first months in New York, Mr. Terry practiced daily with alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, who “helped me sound fluent in jazz.” He spent three years in a powerhouse quintet led by Gonzalo Rubalcaba, an eminent Cuban emigre pianist who plays keyboards on the new CD’s closing track.
Mysteries underscore Mr. Terry’s new compositions: some ancient and communal, like percussionist Pedro Martinez’s chants, drawn from abakua, an Afro-Cuban male secret society; others new and personal, such as the numerology behind sometimes dissonant melodies. Mr. Terry’s bandmates, particularly trumpeter Michael Rodriguez and pianist Osmany Paredes, match his technical prowess and clarity.
Mr. Terry’s younger brother, Yunior, the bassist in his current quintet, said: “When I got to New York, Yosvany was writing challenging jazz. I was skeptical. But once I heard it, I fell right in. It extends what we grew up with.”
“In Cuba,” said Yosvany Terry, “everything that arrives, integrates and becomes part of the culture. Jazz is the same way.”
—Mr. Blumenfeld writes about jazz for the Journal.
A version of this article appeared April 7, 2012, on page A22 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Playing to the Rhythm of Two Islands.