DownBeat Magazine – 2012-08
by Ned Sublette
Yosvany Terry – Today’s Opinion (Criss Cross jazz 1343)
Today’s Opinion, Yosvany Terry’s third title as a 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.
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).