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Yosvany Terry Cabrera: Metamorphosis (2006)

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Yosvany Terry Cabrera: Metamorphosis How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Yosvany Terry Cabrera has been turning heads in the New York jazz community since he arrived in the city in 1999. The Cuban-born musician's stateside debut will be the first introduction to this rising star for many, however. Metamorphosis is a stellar debut from a talented young saxophonist and master chekere player whose credentials speak for themselves and whose compositions are fresh and vibrant.

Frequent collaborators Avishai Cohen (trumpet), Mike Moreno (guitars), Venezuelan-born Luis Perdoma (piano) and Dafnis Prieto (drums) join Cabrera on Metamorphosis. Jeff "Tain" Watts, one of Cabrera's first musical co-conspirators in New York, handles drum duties beautifully on "This is It"; Cabrera's brother Yunior takes over on bass for "The Crying," a tune the elder Cabrera also wrote.

The buzz about Cabrera dates back to the saxophonist's work with Columna B, an eclectic group of Cuban musicians credited with taking the nation's music in a wholly new direction. As a recent immigrant to New York, Cabrera caught the attention of powerhouse jazz players Roy Hargrove, Steve Coleman, Dave Douglas and others. With Metamorphosis we see Cabrera scratching at the surface of a style all his own—one that brings a strong knowledge of Afro-Cuban and Latin sounds to a seemingly profound love of jazz composition and mashes them in an exciting new way.

The album's standout piece comes just two songs in with the lively and vivacious "El Burlon." Pedro Martinez's driving percussion propels the tune, creating the perfect balance of Latin and jazz feel—all rhythm, with loads of space for Cabrera and Cohen to shine. Martinez shows up again on "Journey of Awareness" with an inspired vocal performance; the piece also has another one of the record's standout performances from the bandleader.

But all too often on Metamorphosis, Cabrera's playing is overshadowed by Cohen's—or maybe it isn't overshadowed, necessarily. Something about Cohen's playing just seems to pull you in; something about the rhythms and textures of Cabrera's compositions seems to suit Cohen's dancing trumpet work more than the leader's own saxophone. Which certainly doesn't take anything away from Cabrera's undeniable talent... it's just odd. Yet oddity makes for a great record here.

While the pulse of the music may be familiar—Latin-infused Afro-Cuban grooves—there is definitely something else going on here, something refreshing that one can honestly call "new," and that feels good. With a young gun like Cabrera poised to take the torch in Latin music, fans of the genre can relax and rejoice. Cabrera is a young lion and Metamorphosis a worthy recording.

Track Listing: Okonkolo Concertante; El Burlon; Journey of Awareness; This is It; The Crying; Subversive; Transito a Full; Rampa Abajo

Personnel: Yosvany Terry Cabrera: sax; Avishai Cohen: trumpet; Mike Moreno: guitars; Luis Perdoma: piano; James Genus: bass; Dafnis Prieto: drums; Jeff Watts: drums; Pedro Martinez: percussion, vocals

Record Label: Kindred Rhythm

Style: Latin/World


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