Harvard jazz leader, amid his Cuban roots

first_imgHAVANA — When Yosvany Terry was a child, his home was always filled with music.So when he stepped inside that home again on a summer trip to his native Cuba, he sat down almost immediately at the family piano to play “La Tedesca,” an 18th-century classical contradanza. His father, Eladio, walked in, beating the chekeré, while his mother, Lidia, beamed.“I wanted him to study medicine because I was a nurse and because from a very young age he was such a responsible kid, and his grades were so high,” Lidia recalled before the musical interlude. “And he said, ‘No, mom, I want to be a musician like my dad.’ ”Terry’s musical destiny was forged on this communist-ruled Caribbean island. His story is of duality, of adapting to instruments while assimilating into new cultures for the love of music. Terry is now senior lecturer on music at Harvard and its director of jazz ensembles, as well as being a saxophonist, percussionist, and composer with six bands (including a namesake quintet, Afro-Cuban Roots: Ye-dé-gbé, and the Ancestral Memories Quartet with French pianist Baptiste Trotignon). He has lived in two worlds “as far as I can stretch my memory.”While guiding the Harvard Monday Jazz Band through the vibrant landscape of his native Cuba, Yosvany Terry (from left) visited his parents, Lidia and Eladio, in his home village. Photo by Ned Brown“I remember going to religious ceremonies and learning chants, rhythmic patterns, and how to play various instruments. And of course this was something I couldn’t share with my peers at school,” he said.Those earliest recollections were created in Camaguey, a city in the middle of the island where Lidia remembered her middle son as “bright, serious, studious, and competitive.”“Every year, he always passed with good grades. When Yosvany received a grade of 98.5, he’d be upset because he wanted a 100,” she said.He wanted to study violin, which, like all formal musical education in Cuba, required total commitment by elementary school. But when space opened at the desired school, he was told, at age 8, that he was already too old.“Papi,” he told his father, Don Pancho, “I want to study music. It can be whatever instrument. How about saxophone?”Even when school officials told Eladio his son would need to learn two years of saxophone in one year’s time to catch up, a young Yosvany kept his focus. Said the senior Terry: “Every day I’d ask him how it was going at school and he’d say, ‘I’ve surpassed this student, and that class, and I’m on to the next one.’ … And he did it.”The family of five, which includes Yunior, a bassist/violinist who will begin teaching at New York University this fall, and Yoel, a flutist who died two years ago, has performed as Los Terry since the early 1990s. Lidia said her son’s charismatic personality equals his musical aptitude: “When he arrives somewhere, he starts talking, and people pay attention,” she said. “He likes to chat, to learn things. He’s always interacting.”“I don’t know if ‘assimilated’ is the right word,” added Terry, a Grammy-nominated musician, “but I was born assimilated.”Neither father (left) nor son wasted much time picking up an instrument, jumping almost immediately into a rendition of the 18th-century classical contradanza, “La Tedesca.” Photo by Ned BrownHis easygoing nature is immediately visible. “It’s his posture — he leans back,” said Harvard Jazz Band student Jake Tilton. And it’s a quality that Terry believes is a byproduct of starting day care at 6 months old. But it’s also one that served him well when he decided, at age 28, to defect to the United States in 1999.“Transitions are the most difficult part of life, and going through the transition of going to a new country was like jumping into the unknown,” he said. “I thought about many composers who preceded me: Béla Bartók, who left Hungary, [Russian Sergei] Rachmaninoff, and Chano Pozo, the percussionist from Cuba. They all had to leave their countries in order to continue the development in their career. At the moment I left, the only thing that consoled me was my belief in music and art.”Evan Vietorisz, a Harvard College sophomore who plays guitar in the Harvard Monday Jazz Band under Terry’s direction, said that having a teacher who comes to Monday practices after gigging all weekend has been an unmatched experience.“He has so many projects. He could come to practice after concerts as huge as playing with Chick Corea and other jazz greats, and yet he never lets us feel like our work is child’s play for him — he’s only enthusiastic. There are few people as talented as he who are not just humble, but so generous and supportive.”Terry returns to Cuba at least once a year to visit his parents and to travel the countryside, where he believes the country’s Afro-Cuban musical roots are in most need of preservation.”I am working to preserve musical tradition, but, at the same time, to move it forward,” he said. “It is so important to share it with the young generations because there was always someone who brought you along.”last_img read more

LIPA Battles Outages as Storm Continues to Drench LI

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Coastal storm continues to pound LI with rain and whipping winds.The coastal storm that drenched much of Long Island overnight will continue to impact the region Wednesday as travelers prepare to leave town for the Thanksgiving holiday.Forecasters are calling for more rain and windy conditions throughout the morning Wednesday before tapering off in the afternoon. The National Weather Service cautioned that rain could be heavy at times and could potentially cause flooding in certain areas. A flood watch is in effect until 4 p.m.The National Weather Service, which called for 2 to 4 inches of rain before the storm hit, reported 2.5 inches of rain in Floral Park and 1.61 inches at MacArthur Airport in Islip.Wind will continue to be a factor with gusts approaching 26 mph. The NWS measured overnight wind gusts of more than 45 mph across the Island.The unusually mild conditions that many Long Islanders woke up to Wednesday morning will drop once a cold front moves across the area, the NWS said. Temperatures should fall to 46 degrees by the afternoon before plummeting to freezing temperatures by the evening. Wind could pick up again overnight with gusts as high as 43 mph.The storm knocked out power to as many as 9,000 Long Island Power Authority customers overnight but that number had dropped to 4,820 as of 9:48 a.m., according to utility’s website.LIPA released a statement saying it is experiencing “widespread power outages across Long Island,” due to high winds and heavy rain.“Restoration crews are assessing damage and restoring power as quickly as possible,” LIPA said.The New York State Department of Transportation was not reporting any major delays or traffic accidents by the morning.But both John F. Kennedy and La Guardia airports were reporting weather-related delays Wednesday morning.The powerful storm has already frustrated thousands of travelers across the country celebrating Thanksgiving away from home. AAA estimated that 43 million Americans will travel during the holiday, with 39 million traveling by car.Thousands of flights have either been cancelled or delayed with many parts of the country experiencing heavy rain, snow or icy conditions.The storm should clear out by Wednesday evening, making way for clear skies on Thursday.last_img read more

Footballers didn’t take long to get focus on final

first_imgTipp FM wil have live coverage of the match, which takes place at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney, on Sunday July 3rd. Selector Tommy Toomey says it was right for the win over the Rebels to be celebrated but it had to be ‘controlled’.Tipp play Kerry in the provincial decider on Sunday week.Tommy is impressed with how quickly the panel concentrated on the task in hand.last_img