performed on November 03 2006, British Virgin Islands
I have never known a Jazz Showcase concert at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College to begin any later than 08:05 p.m., maybe 08:10 p.m. – and I have not missed more than one or two shows over the past seven seasons. Well, the H. L. Stoutt Community College broke their excellent record on November 03; Yosvany Terry (soprano and alto saxes) did not hit the stage until 08:27p.m.
The first thing that struck me about the Yosvany Terry Quintet was its relative youthfulness. This was not the first time that the Jazz Showcase has featured young leaders; however, this was an altogether youthful cohort of inspired musicians.
At the top of the show, some of the beats and rhythms completely eluded me, but just for a time. One song in particular, a vamp, sounded disjointed to my ears at first, as though each player had his own story to tell and went about his way independent of his other band mates. The structure of that song, and the entire concert obviously, was entirely contrived so this is not a commentary on cohesiveness – quite the opposite.
Then I recalled that Terry has the avant-garde trait and, suddenly, I understood what I was hearing. I sourced “Modal Miles” and the Free Jazz of Ornette Coleman to bring the disparate elements of Terry’s music together in my mind.
I kept thinking of Ornette because of his son Denardo, a drummer who, upon joining his father’s band became known as one to fuse the funk into the “free” stuff his father had been doing all along. Justin Brown did more than that; he threw in some Jam Band, à la “drum n’ bass” into the mix this night, and turned converted into a fan.
“Returning home” (“a ballad dedicated to my (Terry’s) girlfriend”) forced me to focus on drummer Brown even more, his odd time signatures demanding my attention and imparting the spirit of the music to me that way.
That is it: the spirit! It was that Cuban sensibility, a marriage of things modern and experimental that radiated from the band as the first set neared its end. The band gelled and the individuals in it finally began to swing atop the Afro-Cuban soundscape they had created earlier.
At this juncture, the percussionists came to the fore and revved up the set to a crescendo. Brown in particular stepped up yet another notch with his muscular patterns and thus attracted the most rousing applause yet.
There was much of the same to kick off the second set. The leader drove his drummer who in turn responded by riding the cymbals hard into the “mainstream.” I had not expected that since the quintet had done nothing to suggest that they would have gone down that musical road.
Prior to that, I had not taken much notice of pianist Jason Lindner. “This is it” put him front and center for only the second time in the show.
Nonetheless, Brown continued to eclipse the rest of his band mates as his solo time stretched on. Percussionist Pedro P. Martinez also took his rightful place in the band with a superb conga solo. Terry himself enhanced the rhythmic feel of the quintet with the chekere a few times along the way.
The lyricism of “Suzanne” served to relegate everyone to accompanist as the bossa nova vibe took precedence over individualism. This was the way the Yosvany Terry Quintet ended their sojourn at the H. L. Stoutt Community College’s Jazz Showcase, not as individuals, but as a solid unit. Theirs was a cerebral yet enjoyable and fun music, which is exactly what Jazz is supposed to be about.