Album Review of
Ancestral Memories
Yosvany Terry and Baptiste Trotignon

Written by Mark Gallo
October 25, 2017 - 12:00am EDT
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The quartet led by Cuban saxophonist and percussionist Yosvany Terry and French pianist Baptiste Trotignon is an exercise in the successful melding of musical cultures. Terry came to New York from Cuba in 1999 and was immediately lauded by the local and national press, as well as embraced by the musical community. Trotignon remains in France, where he was won accolades and awards over the years. They had not met before their session.  

The 10 songs are split evenly compositionally, although there is little discernable break in the continuity. They are clearly musical brethren. Trotignon’s “The Call” is a call to come listen. Both introduce themselves with a flair. Bassist Yunior Terry and drummer Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts are a wholly felt presence, as well. Trotignon proves himself to be a muscular and fleet fingered player who is captivating and hypnotic. On Terry’s title piece, it is he who shines. In tandem with supportive piano and Watt’s superlative drumming, Terry is breathtaking. The piano solo is equally dazzling.

Terry opens “Reunion” with checkere, and piano, bass and drums add to the percussive chorus before Terry’s saxophone brings texture. The tempo steadily amps up.  “Bohemian Kids” opens with a gentle piano and saxophone proves to be equally sweet and compelling. Terry’s “Basta La Biguine” is a standout. The thematic line stated by saxophone is bouncy and mirrored by piano. “”Erzulie””, also from Terry’s pen, is set up by Watt’s exceptional drumming before piano and sax are introduced, initially with bombast before quieting and then taking off on a gallop.

Trotignon’s “”Minuet Minute,” besides being the cleverest title, is a song that utilizes all of the tools in each one’s armory. His “”Hymn”” is a beautiful piece that begins with appropriate reverence before reaching for the heavens.  On Terry’s “”French Quarter’’’ the spirit and the groove of New Orleans shine and, finally, Terry’s “”Lost Souls”” is introduced by voice and then bass preceding the principals’ solo passages. The work here is exceptional. A Top Ten contender.