Yosvany Terry Illustration: Daniel Reyes.

Selection of Maestros: Yosvany Terry


This section, Selection of Maestros, a phrase that reminds us of one of the best rums produced by our island’s long history in rum, is an attempt to highlight the profiles of Cuban performers who, like the rum, are characterized by their robustness, character, and flavor.

Yosvany Terry (Camagüey, 1972) Saxophonist, percussionist and composer.

The son Don Pancho Terry, the celebrated Cuban chekeré maestro and founder of the band Maravillas de Florida, Yosvany began his musical studies at home, training that he later perfected at the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory and the National Art School, ENA.

Accustomed from a very young age to sharing stages with music greats such as Chucho Valdés, Silvio Rodríguez or Santiago Feliú, Yosvany reaching a peak in the Cuban music scene of the 1990s with his participation in Columna B, a transgressive jazz group founded together with fellow musicians from his generation, including Roberto Carcassés, Descemer Bueno and Dafnis Prieto.

In 1999, Terry moved to New York, and since then his career has taken multiple creative paths. His track record as an instrumentalist includes participation in more than 30 albums by great artists such as Steve Coleman, Avishai Cohen, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Eddie Palmieri. To date, he has released four auteur albums, all broadly praised by the international media: Twited Noon (2001), Metamorphosis (2005), Today´s Opinion (2012), selected by New York Times critic Nate Chinen as one of the 10 best of the year— and New Throned King (2014), a look at his studies of the Arará culture and a Grammy nominee for Best Latin Jazz Album.

Yosvany Terry is also a well-known professor at Harvard, and he directs that prestigious university’s Big Band. Derramando Luz, Gema Corredera’s debut solo album, featured his support as music producer in 2013.

During his live performances, Terry alternates between playing the chekeré and the saxophone, a mixture that connects the cultural tradition of his Afro-Cuban “elders” with the latest codes of contemporary music. In all justice, U.S. critics say that this maestro has expanded the influence of Afro-Cuban music in contemporary jazz, a tradition initiated in New York by Machito, Mario Bauzá and Chano Pozo.

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