Cuban-born saxophonist and composer Yosvany Terry is at the crest of a wave of Latin American musicians transforming the US jazz scene, and his quartet serves as his most compact vehicle for exploration. Blending a verdant continuum of influences from West Africa, Cuba, and America jazz, Terry has created a singular sound, now recognized as one of the most ambitious and consequent cross-cultural visions on the contemporary scene. This is potent music that maintains a strikingly cohesive sensibility while packing in a dense array of musical ideas and traditions. “In Cuba everything that arrives integrates and becomes part of the culture. Jazz is the same way,” notes Terry, a Grammy Award nominee and 2015 Doris Duke Artist.
Fronting his world-class quartet with his alto and soprano saxophones and beaded gourd chekeré, Terry is joined by a stellar cast of longtime collaborators. The band is built upon the commanding bass work of Yunior Terry, Yosvany’s younger brother. Haitian-American drummer Obed Calvaire, a rising force on the jazz scene and a member of the SFJAZZ Collective, provides dazzling rhythmic currents. And Cuban pianist Manuel Valera is a formidable bandleader (New Cuban Express, Groove Square) in his own right who has also performed and recorded with artists such as Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Dafnis Prieto, and Jeff “Tain” Watts.
Terry introduced the quartet line up on his acclaimed 2012 album Today’s Opinion (Criss Cross), which was selected by The New York Times as one of the year’s 10 best albums. His original music vividly embodies a sonic world marked by Afro-Cuban polyrhythms and exquisite post-bop angles. He taps into his deep cultural roots as a Cuban leavened by insights gleaned on his global travels. Addressing ancient tradition and contemporary practice, Terry frames his charged improvisations within finely wrought small group arrangements that offer listeners easy access to music that’s genuinely new.
For Terry, “musicians are cultural ambassadors by default—constantly working with people from different cultures, and traveling to different places. With Today’s Opinion I had a chance to incorporate these cultural influences, while offering my own ‘op-ed’ piece on where I think music is and an analysis of where I see jazz headed.” Terry and his quartet are delivering a supremely rewarding message that embodies jazz’s ongoing evolution, and that may well set new standards for the music of tomorrow. As the New York Times declared, Terry’s music has “helped redefine Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz as a complex new idiom.”
Yosvany Terry – alto and soprano saxophones, chekeré ; Manuel Valera – piano; Hans Glawischnig – bass; Obed Calvaire – drums