Profile Type: Artist
Yosvany Terry

Yosvany Terry traces his family’s roots to the kingdom of Dahomey, or present-day Benin.  After being taken taken to work in Haiti and Jamaica, his relatives eventually were able  to immigrate to Cuba in roughly 1910. As a child, Yosvany embraced the African musical and religious traditions that were  a fundamental and integral part of his home life.

Born into a musical family in Camaguey, Cuba, he received his first musical instruction on the violin from his father, violinist and chekere player Don Pancho Terry who led Maravilla de Florida, the 1950s-formed collective widely acknowledged as one of Cuba’s most respected Charanga groups. As a result of his father’s legacy, Yosvany’s childhood house was home to  music and an extended family of Cuban musicians.

Yosvany went on to study Western classical music in Havana at the prestigious National School of Arts (ENA). He chose the saxophone as his primary instrument for expressing his music to a global audience, selecting piano as a way to explore rich textural harmony and translate his music into original compositions and arrangements. His music draws inspiration from parallel and intermingling traditions that have roots in the Caribbean and West & Central Africa, as well as from European harmonic traditions and the broad range of Jazz Traditions. Yosvany became interested in Jazz at 14 and began educating himself via bootlegged tapes and records that found their way to Cuba. In 1995, he began traveling to the U.S. to join the faculty at Stanford Jazz Workshop and to tour with his first Jazz project, Columna B. He has lived in the U.S. since 1999.

Yosvany’s work cross-pollinates technical mastery with experiential vision and a desire for inter-cultural expression. A deep commitment to participating in meaningful exchanges compels Yosvany to perform and record with some of the world’s most talented musicians. Collaborators include Steve Coleman, Rufus Reid, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Vijay Iyer, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Avishai Cohen,  Eddie Palmieri, Silvio Rodriguez, Baptiste Trotignon and Gerald Clayton. Yosvany received a Grammy Nomination, for his  New Throned King CD and is a Doris Duke Artist award recipient.

A natural teacher and cultural bearer, Yosvany is driven to share talent, craft and experiential knowledge with the emerging generation of creative musicians, as well as preserve and deepen the understanding of the music from the Caribbean and other parts of the African Diaspora. Over the years, he’s taught courses and delivered master classes across the country and throughout the world. He has served such notable institutions as Princeton University, The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, the Brubeck Institute, NYU, Goddard College, Boston University, Casa de las Americas in Havana, Royal Conservatory of Music in Winnipeg, Banff Center for Arts and Creativity, Columbia University, the University of Salvador de Bahia, University of Rio de Janeiro, and he continues to be resident instructor at the Stanford Jazz Workshop. In 2015, Yosvany joined the full-time faculty at Harvard University as Senior Lecturer and Director of Jazz Ensembles in the Department of Music.

Additional Links: 
Yosvany Terry Quintet LIVE at the Kennedy Center

I Have Worked With

  • June 2020
  • March 2020

    Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana

  • August 2015

    Lecturer & Director or Jazz Ensembles for the Harvard University, Department of Music 2015-present.


  • Artist

Contact Information

First Name: 
Job Title/Position: 
Physical Address: 
Cambridge, MA 02138
Last Name: 


Profile Type: 
Primary Discipline: 
Music - Jazz
Additional Disciplines: 
Music - Ethnic / World
Music - Jazz
Populations Served: 
General Public
School Groups
Languages Available: 
Institution/Business Type: 
Artist (Individual)
Activities and Services: 
Performance / Concert / Reading
Workshops / Demonstrations / Master Class
Events Per Year: 
Seasons Active: 
Geographic Reach: 

Affiliations and Accomplishments

Professional Associations: 
Harvard University, Lecturer & Director or Jazz Ensembles, Department of Music 2015-present.
Boston University, lectures on Afro-Cuban Musical traditions 2018.
Stanford Jazz Workshop, Stanford University, CA - Resident Instructor and Clinician, 1995-2017.
Casa de las Americas, Ethnomusicology seminar in Havana, Cuba 2017.
New York University, lectures 2017.
Part-time Faculty at The New School University, New York, 2009-2015.
Adjunct faculty at Harlem School of the Arts 2010-2015
Princeton University, master classes 2012-2015.
University of Texas, Austin master classes and work-shop 2011.
● Brubeck Institute at University of Pacific, California 2010.
Banff Music Center Canada, workshops in Afro-Cuban Jazz and clinician in Residence 2008-2015.
m National School of the Art (ENA), Instrumentista-Profesor de Saxofón, July 1990. Havana.
d Conservatorio de Música “Amadeo Roldan”
Recipient of the Creative Capital award to develop the multidisciplinary Musical Theater piece “We Have Iré” with Paul Flores. 2019.
Recipient of MapFund commission grant to compose the music for the play “We Have Iré” with Paul Floras & Rosalba Rolon. 2017
CASE - The Harvard Jazz Band Visits Cuba First Place 2018. ● Recipient of the prestigious Doris Duke Artist Award of the class 2015
Grammy Award Nomination for “Best Latin Jazz Album” with New Throned King album, 5 Passion. 2015.
Recipient of FACE/FAJE grant 2014 by Mid Atlantic Foundation to collaborate with a French Jazz artist.
Recipient of the Cintas Fellowship 2013 for composers by the Cintas Foundation

I am a Touring Artist

Technical Requirements: 
Professional sound augmentation system
Sound engineer
Fee Range Minimum: 
Fee Range Maximum: 
State of Residence: 
Minimum Number of Performers: 
Maximum Number of Performers: 

I am a Teaching Artist

Teaching Settings: 
School / University
Subject Areas: 
Ages Served: 
Middle School-age
High School-age