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BIOGRAPHY

Yissy García, composer and drummer, is one of the most powerful artists of the new generation of Cuban musicians. Daughter of percussionist Bernardo García, founder of Irakere and Arturo Sandoval’s band, was born on May 29th, 1987 in Cayo Hueso, a slum in Havana that has been the birthplace of other icons of Cuban music such as Chano Pozo and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Since she was a child, she was surrounded by a musical environment and joined her father to his Irakere rehearsals. During breaks, she ventured into all instruments, the drum being the one that caught her attention. At the age of nine, she began elementary music studies in the specialty of classical percussion at Manuel Saumell School, and continued to Amadeo Roldán Conservatory to do her high school.

Since 2012 she leads Yissy & Bandancha, an o -the-charts quintet whose latest record, Última Noticia (2015), joined the island ́s musical scene as a paradigm of the most contemporary sound.

Both in Cuba and internationally, Yissy has shared the stage with stars such as Esperanza Spalding, Roy Hargrove, Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, Omara Portuondo, Joshua Bell, and Dave Matthews. Since 2014 she is part of the line up of Maqueque, together with the Canadian sax player Jane Bunnett, whose rst record, Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, won the Juno Award to the best Jazz Album. 


PRESS

CACHIVACHE MEDIA - DIANA FERREIRO:  Yissy & Bandancha es, en vivo, un espectáculo a decenas de megabytes por segundo.

MAJESTIC DISORDER: What’s distinctive about Bandancha ́s sound is how their self- directed energy and musical synergy blend the in uences of Latin jazz, funk and electronic music. With a frenetic and percussive zest bustling in the undercurrent, the in uences of rumba are ever-present in this contemporary evolution.

NPR-FÉLIX CONTRERAS: If your knowledge of Cuban music stops at Buena Vista Social Club, let me introduce you to drummer Yissy García. She and her band, Bandancha, are perfect examples of how today’s Cuban musicians ignore boundaries to create stylistic hybrids that have yet to develop accurate descriptions — or even names.

HUCK: e group perform compelling jazz fusion that can’t help but get you onto your feet, combining sounds of traditional sax-heavy jazz with 70s funk and modern hip-hop.

Yissy Garcia a composer and drummer is one of the most powerful artists of this new generation of Cuban musicians. There is a lot of groove in her drumsticks, and a lot of creative impulse in her. At the age of 30, the important things for her are rhythm and the way emotions are trapped by the sound language, as if the drums were just an extension of her body. The important things are ambiguity, the fusion between tradition and avant-garde, her ways of blurring the boundaries of Latin jazz, electronics, funk, R & B, Afro Cuban music.

By 2002, she participated in the “PERCUBA” Percussion Festival. Later on, while still being a student, she was invited to play as a soloist with the National Symphonic Orchestra of Cuba, led by the renowned Cuban conductor Zenaida Romeu. In those days, she won a Special Award at the “Fiesta del Tambor” International Festival and also won a Special Award for Accompaniment at the 2005 JoJazz International Festival for young Jazz musicians. She then won again a Second Award for Interpretation in the 2006 JoJazz contest.

That was an important year for her career, not only because she participated with the Quinteto Chico de La Habana a band gathering outstanding students of the Conservatory at the Barbados Jazz Festival, where she shared stage with prestigious Jazz players from all over the world such as Horacio Hernández (El Negro), Giovanni Hidalgo, Arturo Tappin and Roy Hargrove, but also because Yissy, a newly graduate, became the woman behind the drums in the popular Cuban band Anacaona, a band that has been together for several decades in the Island. She played with that band for about five, and that was undoubtedly a school for the young percussionist, who had to face for the first time genres like salsa, timba, son; and overcome the challenge of playing two different instruments such as the drums and the timpani.

With that band, she performed on stages throughout Cuba and the world, including the festivals of Curaçao, Martinique, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia and Aruba, where she had the opportunity to play with American saxophonist David Sanborn.

Year 2006 also meant Yissy’s entry into Interactivo a space of open creation led by pianist Robertico Carcassés that involves several artists, some of whom have solid professional careers and others who are just in their early stages. Yet, when they are together, they sound like a dream team. It’s been ten years for Yissy in this project ten years doing “timba-funky”, experimenting with Afro Cuban sounds, with popular dance music.

She has not only followed the path of Latin jazz, but also has been on stage with Raúl Paz, Kelvis Ochoa, Joaquín Betancourt, Alexis Bosch, Orlando Sánchez (CubaJazz), Yasek Manzano. In 2011, she travelled to Angola to teach percussion at the Mapess Polyvalent Center. In 2013, she won the Drum Prize at the Master-Jam Festival Contest, held in Odessa. She uses the piano for her compositions, but she told herself one day in 2012 that it was time to have her own band. She also told herself that such band had to unavoidably have a DJ in its ranks and that those “musical ranks” had to be supported, above all, by the fusion of electronic beats, hip-hop, R & B, funk , Latin jazz and Cuban music.

Yissy, who admired a particular pianist, Herbie Hancock who also mixed electronic music in his performances, who had known DJ Jigüe a member of Obsesion band since her days with Anacaona, said to herself that her band had to sound differently. All those events then became the genesis for everything that came next.

And this is somehow what came next:

About seven musicians on the same stage, compositions designed for piano, bass, trumpet, drums, guitar, percussion and DJ machines. Yissy, at the early age of 24, was the leader of an avant-gardeproject of Cuban contemporary music and had her debut concert on August 4th, 2012, at the Havana Fine Arts Theater. A debut concert that would mark the beginning of Bandancha, a band that would later end up being a quintet: Jorge Aragón (piano), Julio César González (bass), Julio Rigal (trumpet), Dj Jigüe (DJ machines) and Yissy (drums) . All of them are powerful musicians that must serve as a reference in today’s Cuba.

For Bandancha, Yissy has composed songs like Cambios, Pequeña Sambita, Te Cogio lo que Anda, Mr. Miller (inspired by one of the icons of Jazz, New York bassist Marcus Miller), among other songs included in her debut album Ultima noticia a pioneer to use crowdfunding in the Island. The album was recorded at the Abdala recording Studios in 2015; edited independently in 2016, and licensed by EGREM (Empresa de Grabaciones y Ediciones Musicales) in 2017.

Soon Ultima Noticia entered the Island’s musical scene as one of the references of contemporary Jazz, even though Bandancha’s sound is based on other impulses, on the synergy between its musicians, on those unique compositions filled with energy, and it is impossible to enjoy it if you are quietly sitting on a chair. Soon this first album was nominated for the awards of the 21st International Cubadisco Fair in 2017, where it won two awards in the categories of First Album and Design.

During February and March 2015, the band toured five cities in the United States: New York, Washington, Miami, Knoxville and New Orleans. In June, this project was also invited to the first edition of AM-PM “América por su Música”, a meeting platform organized by Fábrica de Arte Cubano(FAC) (Cuban Art Factory)  for Latin American music professionals.

Then, by August of that same year, they performed in El Ciervo Encantado room. This concert combined and fused Jazz, funk and electronic sounds with the rumba and other Afro Cuban rhythms to create a show that brought together other artistic and urban manifestations. That performance ended up being the first DVD of the project: Descarga con Bandancha, edited independently in 2016.

In November 2015, they participated in the regional event “One Night in Latin America”, regional event of the Latin American Association of Musical Managers (MMF Latam), where there were simultaneous concerts in the continent, and where YISSY & Bandancha shared with Harold López-Nussa and Eme Alfonso at Fábrica de Arte Cubano in Havana.

Later, in March 2016, the band played at the Havana World Music Festival which brought together several artists such as Juanito Makandé (Spain), Centavrvs (Mexico), among others; and she also played in Austin, Texas. In the world capital of live music, this quintet, led by Yissy, was part of the Cuban entourage along with Kelvis Ochoa, Telmary, Daymé Arocena and La Flota who raised the new banner of the Island sounds at the South by Southwest festival (SXSW), as part of the showcase Sounds from Cuba, presented by Roads & Kingdoms and Fábrica de Arte Cubano.

Meanwhile, YISSY & Bandancha also released the first video clip of the band in 2016, Mr. Miller, which was directed by Hector David Rosales. According to NoFM Radio, this video clip is “a beautiful mix of rhythms and textures.” The clip then had two nominations in the 2016 Lucas Awards one of the most important contests of the Cuban scene- in the categories of Instrumental Video and Best Novel Artist.

Moreover, celebrations on the International Jazz Day came to Havana for the first time by the end of April 2017. Those celebrations brought some icons of this genre to the Island, such as Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Richard Bona, Esperanza Spalding, among others. YISSY & Bandancha was then accompanied by the American singer and bass player Esperanza Spalding, to make a memorable concert at the “Tablao” of the Gran Teatro de La Habana “Alicia Alonso”.

Together with Bandancha, she received the “Cuerda Viva” Award on two occasions (2014 and 2016). Cuerda Viva is an alternative music festival in the Island. The Cuban band is currently preparing a tour of the United States and several Latin American countries. In the mean time, their new video clip Pequeño sambita was released in the digital platforms last May. This clip was directed by Manuel Ortega.

In addition to that, other projects also make Yissy an outstanding artist: the young composer participated in a jam session at the Meliá Cohíba Hotel in 2014, where she met saxophonist Jane Bunnett, who invited her to be part of the Maqueque line up. This band evokes the spirit of young women in the oldest Afro Cuban dialect.

Together with Yusa, Daymé Arocena, Magdelys Savinge, Danae Olano and Celia Jiménez, YISSY joined the Canadian artist Jane Bunnett to record the album: “Jane Bunnett and Maqueque”. This record was the winner of the 2015 Juno Award for Best Jazz Album. Later on, she recorded a second album, Oddara, published by Linus Entertainment (2016). She has participated with Maqueque in the most important festivals in Canada and the United States.

She also played on Argentina’s stages with Yusa, Kelvis Ochoa and William Vivanco in 2014, in a tour that was called El Sur Suena a Cubano (The South sounds like Cuba). She also accompanied Omara Portuondo in her tour of Mexico. In 2015, she traveled to Japan with Yusa. In March of that same year, she was a member of the band Women of The World, along with Eme Alfonso, Mélissa Laveaux, Ellen Andrea Wang and Lucia Rey, who had performed at the Havana World Music festival. In October of that same year, she also participated in the Les Voix Humaines Festival, organized by Leo Brouwer’s Office, in a concert with the spectacular Badi Assad, held at “Mella” Theater in Havana.

One of her featurings includes the album Feeling Marta, with Gema Corredera. This album was the winner of the 2016 Cubadisco Award in the category of Trova; and it marked the debut of Yissy in a genre which had never been explored by her before the feeling.

However, the versatility of Yissy behind the drums has gone beyond the boundaries of a show. She has also become a reference for several contests in Cuba and the United States. She has been a judge at the JoJazz Festival for three years in a row, and since 2016 she has also been a judge at the annual “Hit like a Girl” International Contest, which assesses the work of female drummers, thus joining the prestigious list of judges of this contest. One of the names that stands out in such list is that of Terry Lyne Carrigton, a famous American drummer who invited Yissy to teach the Island rhythms at the Berklee College of Music in 2015. In addition to that, the 2017 Cubadisco International Festival had Yissy as one of the judges at its latest Festival.

La Flota, a band that gathers other Cuban musicians like X Alfonso, David Blanco and Ernesto Blanco, and whose banner represents the different sounds of rock and roll, is also another project that should be included in the biography of this artist. Another highlight of this artist is Banda XX, -an all women band. The double X is a reference to the female chromosome.  This band was directed by Yissy at the Jazz Plaza 2016 Festival and it brings together a group of talented female artists from the Cuban scene such as Daymé Arocena and Zule Guerra.

There is another moment that has defined the artistic career of this Cuban drummer: It’s April, it’s 2016, and it’s the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Several North American artists traveled to Havana to play and exchange with Cuban musicians. That delegation included some cracks like Smokey Robinson, Usher, the violinist Joshua Bell, Dave Matthews, among others.

Matthews a rocker and leader of Dave Matthews Band and Grammy Award winner for his single “Gravedigger”, performed on the stage of Fabrica de Arte Cubano, accompanied by another rock and roll freak and member of the Generation of the Topos (moles) in Cuba Carlos Varela. Both artists were accompanied by a luxurious band: Aldo López Gavilán (piano), Yissy García (drums) and Julio César González (bass). Matthews and Varela have been playing ever since in other places, thanks to the synergy of that band which they managed to put together on that occasion.

In November 2016, the Cuban percussionist played at Lincoln Center in New York with maestro Joshua Bell, the Havana Chamber Orchestra, pianist Aldo López Gavilán, Carlos Varela and Dave Matthews. This concert was recorded by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), as part of the “Live at Lincoln Center” series, and it was nominated for the EMMY Awards in 2017. Along with Matthews and Varela, she also played in concerts in Washington and Cancun, Mexico. Since then or maybe earlier than that, La Flota project with Yissy García as drummer, composer, an enthusiast of jazz, electronic music and all types of fusion that has ultimately resulted in good music- has been including rock and roll in its repertoire.


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NEW'S

  Yissy & Bandancha Bring Their Afro-Cuban Funk to New York City’s SOBs (Billboard Magazine)   Yissy Garcia and her band Bandancha, hailing from the famously colorful and musical Havana, Yissy & Bandancha recently played at the legendary SOB’s (Sounds of Brazil) in New York, joining the ranks of some of their very own iconic predecessors, like Celia Cruz.  Born into a musical family headed by renowned Cuban percussionist Bernardo Garcia, Yissy helped put on a spectacular set of what the band calls “high-speed Cuban jazz,” which fuses street conga and rumba, plenty drums, bass and funk — all rhythms “carried in our blood,” as Yissy puts it.  Once a part of an all-women’s salsa orchestra that traveled throughout Cuba, Yissy has jazz genius Herbie Hancock to thank for what inspired her to start playing music she loves and deems important by establishing Bandancha, which also includes the globally acclaimed DJ Jigüe of  AfroRazones .  Yissy has performed with well-known figures such as  Dave Matthews , Omara Portuondo and Bobby Carcasses, and recently delivered a freshly minted debut album with her band titled  Ultima Noticia  that in part was created thanks to a successful crowdfunding initiative. No easy feat in a government-sanctioned country with little to no Internet.

Yissy & Bandancha Bring Their Afro-Cuban Funk to New York City’s SOBs (Billboard Magazine)

Yissy Garcia and her band Bandancha, hailing from the famously colorful and musical Havana, Yissy & Bandancha recently played at the legendary SOB’s (Sounds of Brazil) in New York, joining the ranks of some of their very own iconic predecessors, like Celia Cruz.

Born into a musical family headed by renowned Cuban percussionist Bernardo Garcia, Yissy helped put on a spectacular set of what the band calls “high-speed Cuban jazz,” which fuses street conga and rumba, plenty drums, bass and funk — all rhythms “carried in our blood,” as Yissy puts it.

Once a part of an all-women’s salsa orchestra that traveled throughout Cuba, Yissy has jazz genius Herbie Hancock to thank for what inspired her to start playing music she loves and deems important by establishing Bandancha, which also includes the globally acclaimed DJ Jigüe of AfroRazones.

Yissy has performed with well-known figures such as Dave Matthews, Omara Portuondo and Bobby Carcasses, and recently delivered a freshly minted debut album with her band titled Ultima Noticia that in part was created thanks to a successful crowdfunding initiative. No easy feat in a government-sanctioned country with little to no Internet.

 Yissy with Bandaancha at Speakeasy  SXSW presented five Cuban bands direct from Havana on Friday night and the result was nothing short of amazing. To cut costs, four different bands used more or less the same rhythm section of bass, drums and keyboards. Afro-Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena invoked the spirits of the orishas with her deeply spiritual set. Folk troubadour Kelvis presented a heartfelt series of songs about the glories of the simple life, backed by a band that mixed Cuban timba and jazz. But it was drummer Yissy and her group Bandaancha that illustrated the incredible level of musicianship that exists on the island. Picture this: technically jaw-dropping music wrapped in a hip-shaking sensuality that had the entire Speakeasy crowd dancing to jazz fusion. With all the coming changes between the U.S. and Cuba, this kind of thing may happen more often. And you really shouldn’t miss it.

Yissy with Bandaancha at Speakeasy

SXSW presented five Cuban bands direct from Havana on Friday night and the result was nothing short of amazing. To cut costs, four different bands used more or less the same rhythm section of bass, drums and keyboards. Afro-Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena invoked the spirits of the orishas with her deeply spiritual set. Folk troubadour Kelvis presented a heartfelt series of songs about the glories of the simple life, backed by a band that mixed Cuban timba and jazz. But it was drummer Yissy and her group Bandaancha that illustrated the incredible level of musicianship that exists on the island. Picture this: technically jaw-dropping music wrapped in a hip-shaking sensuality that had the entire Speakeasy crowd dancing to jazz fusion. With all the coming changes between the U.S. and Cuba, this kind of thing may happen more often. And you really shouldn’t miss it.

 Yissy Garcia: The girl is a drummer and boy, she can play  The daughter of Bernardo García, an influential drummer in Cuban music, charter member of the fabled Afro-Cuban jazz rock group Irakere and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval’s band, Yissy García was supposed to be a dancer, a ballerina. Her brother was the designated heir in the family. “They would take me to dance lessons and I’d go crying, all the way. I didn’t want to go. They would give the sticks to my brother,” recalls García, 27, with a sly smile at a lunch at Miami Light Project in Wynwood.  “Now my brother is a dancer, a choreographer, and me ….” As laughter erupted in the room, she didn’t need to finish the sentence. She is now a professional drummer, leading her own group,  BandaAncha , a fascinating ensemble of Afro-Cuban jazz-funk that includes a deejay contributing an array of sounds and effects.  “Since I was in my mom’s belly I knew I was going to be a percussionist,” she says. “I would be going around the house beating my little drums and, at first, my parents thought it was just child’s play. But later they realized it was for real.”  Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, arguably the premier Cuban drummer of his generation, was at the lunch (he’s known García since she was a child and they are now planning a project together) and called her “the leading figure in modern Cuban drumming.”  García studied classic percussion since age 10 and at 15 she started playing the drum kit. She won a Special Award at Fiesta del Tambor competition (Drum Party, 2005), a Special Mention for Performance at the Festival Internacional de Jóvenes Jazzistas JOJAZZ (International Festival of Young Jazz Musicians, 2006), and was the runner up at the JOJAZZ competition in 2010.  She organized  Yissy and BandAncha  in 2012, and the group is completing its first album and on its first tour of the United States, coming to Miami this weekend thanks to presenters FUNDarte and Miami Light Project.  While there is a tradition of female groups in Cuban popular music, getting accepted as a female drummer in male-only groups must’ve taken some doing. How was that?  Actually, I liked the process of establishing myself in the world of professional musicians in Cuba a lot. Years ago I was much thinner, much smaller, and being a woman, many groups, especially those comprised just by men, didn’t consider me at all. I had friends who knew bands looking for drummers and when they recommended me, they were told things like ‘Yeah, but she’s a girl, I dunno.’ But that actually strengthen me. I always tell the story that in those days I kept a list of all those groups that said ‘no.’ and one by one I ended up crossing them off the list because I ended up playing with them.  How did you come up with the idea of mixing Afro-Cuban tradition, jazz, and turntables?  The idea comes from a video I saw of Herbie Hancock from a concert in 2002 with a deejay, and Terri Lyne Carrington. It really had a impact on me. When I saw that, I decided that that’s what I wanted to do. I loved to see the people at the concert dancing. That was terrific and that’s how the idea of having a deejay and using electronic sounds came about, but mixing it with our roots music: rumba, Afro-Cuban grooves.  As far as female drummers, there is by now a long list in pop and rock, but in jazz there are few notable names. Who were your influences?  When I started playing drums, which was because of the encouragement of Jorge Aragón, who is the keyboardist in my band and has been a jazz fan since he was a kid, I started listening to Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dennis Chambers, Brian Blades. It’s funny, because as we learn we often start at the end and then we go back to the beginning, but that was the style we were playing at school at the time so those were the drummers I was listening to. It was later that they organized a jazz band [at the school] and I went back and started listening to guys like Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, and Tony Williams. I’m always checking new drummers, especially the gospel drummers, then I make my own mix.  Jazz was once dance music and has sometimes suffered from being presented in very formal concert settings. You seem to want people to listen — but also dance.  The reason I put this band, this fusion, together is because I love to see people dancing, enjoying themselves and ignoring that chip that says that jazz is not for dancing.

Yissy Garcia: The girl is a drummer and boy, she can play

The daughter of Bernardo García, an influential drummer in Cuban music, charter member of the fabled Afro-Cuban jazz rock group Irakere and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval’s band, Yissy García was supposed to be a dancer, a ballerina. Her brother was the designated heir in the family. “They would take me to dance lessons and I’d go crying, all the way. I didn’t want to go. They would give the sticks to my brother,” recalls García, 27, with a sly smile at a lunch at Miami Light Project in Wynwood.

“Now my brother is a dancer, a choreographer, and me ….” As laughter erupted in the room, she didn’t need to finish the sentence. She is now a professional drummer, leading her own group, BandaAncha, a fascinating ensemble of Afro-Cuban jazz-funk that includes a deejay contributing an array of sounds and effects.

“Since I was in my mom’s belly I knew I was going to be a percussionist,” she says. “I would be going around the house beating my little drums and, at first, my parents thought it was just child’s play. But later they realized it was for real.”

Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, arguably the premier Cuban drummer of his generation, was at the lunch (he’s known García since she was a child and they are now planning a project together) and called her “the leading figure in modern Cuban drumming.”

García studied classic percussion since age 10 and at 15 she started playing the drum kit. She won a Special Award at Fiesta del Tambor competition (Drum Party, 2005), a Special Mention for Performance at the Festival Internacional de Jóvenes Jazzistas JOJAZZ (International Festival of Young Jazz Musicians, 2006), and was the runner up at the JOJAZZ competition in 2010.

She organized Yissy and BandAncha in 2012, and the group is completing its first album and on its first tour of the United States, coming to Miami this weekend thanks to presenters FUNDarte and Miami Light Project.

While there is a tradition of female groups in Cuban popular music, getting accepted as a female drummer in male-only groups must’ve taken some doing. How was that?

Actually, I liked the process of establishing myself in the world of professional musicians in Cuba a lot. Years ago I was much thinner, much smaller, and being a woman, many groups, especially those comprised just by men, didn’t consider me at all. I had friends who knew bands looking for drummers and when they recommended me, they were told things like ‘Yeah, but she’s a girl, I dunno.’ But that actually strengthen me. I always tell the story that in those days I kept a list of all those groups that said ‘no.’ and one by one I ended up crossing them off the list because I ended up playing with them.

How did you come up with the idea of mixing Afro-Cuban tradition, jazz, and turntables?

The idea comes from a video I saw of Herbie Hancock from a concert in 2002 with a deejay, and Terri Lyne Carrington. It really had a impact on me. When I saw that, I decided that that’s what I wanted to do. I loved to see the people at the concert dancing. That was terrific and that’s how the idea of having a deejay and using electronic sounds came about, but mixing it with our roots music: rumba, Afro-Cuban grooves.

As far as female drummers, there is by now a long list in pop and rock, but in jazz there are few notable names. Who were your influences?

When I started playing drums, which was because of the encouragement of Jorge Aragón, who is the keyboardist in my band and has been a jazz fan since he was a kid, I started listening to Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dennis Chambers, Brian Blades. It’s funny, because as we learn we often start at the end and then we go back to the beginning, but that was the style we were playing at school at the time so those were the drummers I was listening to. It was later that they organized a jazz band [at the school] and I went back and started listening to guys like Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, and Tony Williams. I’m always checking new drummers, especially the gospel drummers, then I make my own mix.

Jazz was once dance music and has sometimes suffered from being presented in very formal concert settings. You seem to want people to listen — but also dance.

The reason I put this band, this fusion, together is because I love to see people dancing, enjoying themselves and ignoring that chip that says that jazz is not for dancing.


wg-jazz2018-400x400.jpg

XIV Edition Ecuador Jazz 2018 Festival

The drummer and composer Yissy García is one of the most powerful artists of the new generation of Cuban musicians. Since 2012 she has been leading Yissy & Bandancha, a quintet that, with her debut album 'Última Noticia' (2015), positioned herself as a current reference in jazz on the island.

In November 2016, the Cuban percussionist played at Lincoln Center in New York with maestro Joshua Bell, the Havana Chamber Orchestra, pianist Aldo López Gavilán, Carlos Varela and Dave Matthews. This concert was recorded by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), as part of the “Live at Lincoln Center” series, and it was nominated for the EMMY Awards in 2017. Along with Matthews and Varela, she also played in concerts in Washington and Cancun, Mexico. Since then or maybe earlier than that, La Flota project with Yissy García as drummer, composer, an enthusiast of jazz, electronic music and all types of fusion that has ultimately resulted in good music- has been including rock and roll in its repertoire.
 Dave Matthews Serenades Bankers as Tisch, Rohatyn Women Honored  At a Lincoln Center gala that raised $3.1 million Tuesday night, Dave Matthews and Yissy Garcia, a woman drummer with a mohawk, played for Evercore Chief Executive Officer Ralph Schlosstein and Citigroup’s head of corporate and investment banking, Raymond McGuire.  Thank President Obama for giving the bankers the opportunity. After his visit to Cuba, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities sent Matthews and violinist Joshua Bell on a cultural mission to Havana, to drink rum, smoke cigars and play with Cuban musicians.  When Bell came back, he decided to bring the Cubans and Matthews together in New York, and partnered with Lincoln Center to make it happen. Their concert at the Rose Theater became the anchor of Lincoln Center’s Fall Gala, and was taped for broadcast Dec. 16 on PBS as part of the Live from Lincoln Center series.

Dave Matthews Serenades Bankers as Tisch, Rohatyn Women Honored

At a Lincoln Center gala that raised $3.1 million Tuesday night, Dave Matthews and Yissy Garcia, a woman drummer with a mohawk, played for Evercore Chief Executive Officer Ralph Schlosstein and Citigroup’s head of corporate and investment banking, Raymond McGuire.

Thank President Obama for giving the bankers the opportunity. After his visit to Cuba, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities sent Matthews and violinist Joshua Bell on a cultural mission to Havana, to drink rum, smoke cigars and play with Cuban musicians.

When Bell came back, he decided to bring the Cubans and Matthews together in New York, and partnered with Lincoln Center to make it happen. Their concert at the Rose Theater became the anchor of Lincoln Center’s Fall Gala, and was taped for broadcast Dec. 16 on PBS as part of the Live from Lincoln Center series.

 Young Artists Keeping Cuba’s Traditional Music Alive  “All the rhythms that we make aren’t pure,” she explains. “They’re more like developed rhythms, more fusion. For example, we love to use a street conga and mix it with a little drum and bass, funk; mix it up with the rumba. The tradition of Cuba is very strong to me—carrying rhythm in your blood.”  Earlier this year Yissy & Bandancha released their debut album Ultima Noticia, a shapeshifting work of jazz, funk, electronic, and Afro-Cuban notes. Almost as extraordinary as the LP was the method in which it was actualized—via crowdfunding. The idea was concocted to sidestep having to make a deal with a typically government-owned Cuban record label, where they end up owning everything. But to achieve crowdfunding success in a country where internet barely exists almost felt like an exercise in oxymoronic madness.  “We had about a week where we lost our internet,” Yissy says, “and then friends who were also helping us ended up with no internet, so everything was very tense. But in the end, thanks to many people and many collaborators, we reached our goal.” By the close of the crowdfunding campaign, Yissy & Bandancha surpassed their goal of $6,000 and released Ultima Noticia on their own label, Zona Jazz.

Young Artists Keeping Cuba’s Traditional Music Alive

“All the rhythms that we make aren’t pure,” she explains. “They’re more like developed rhythms, more fusion. For example, we love to use a street conga and mix it with a little drum and bass, funk; mix it up with the rumba. The tradition of Cuba is very strong to me—carrying rhythm in your blood.”

Earlier this year Yissy & Bandancha released their debut album Ultima Noticia, a shapeshifting work of jazz, funk, electronic, and Afro-Cuban notes. Almost as extraordinary as the LP was the method in which it was actualized—via crowdfunding. The idea was concocted to sidestep having to make a deal with a typically government-owned Cuban record label, where they end up owning everything. But to achieve crowdfunding success in a country where internet barely exists almost felt like an exercise in oxymoronic madness.

“We had about a week where we lost our internet,” Yissy says, “and then friends who were also helping us ended up with no internet, so everything was very tense. But in the end, thanks to many people and many collaborators, we reached our goal.” By the close of the crowdfunding campaign, Yissy & Bandancha surpassed their goal of $6,000 and released Ultima Noticia on their own label, Zona Jazz.

  Yissy:  Yissy García first got on my radar at the Sounds from Cuba showcase Friday night where her hip Afro-Latin jazz fusion band Yissy & Bandancha performed. She not only has mad percussive skills, but also leads the group. She’s the daughter of musical hero Bernardo García, who founded the groundbreaking Cuban group, Irakere. Yissy brought her fierceness to the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake while backing other Cuban artists Telmary Díaz and Kelvis Ochoa.

Yissy: Yissy García first got on my radar at the Sounds from Cuba showcase Friday night where her hip Afro-Latin jazz fusion band Yissy & Bandancha performed. She not only has mad percussive skills, but also leads the group. She’s the daughter of musical hero Bernardo García, who founded the groundbreaking Cuban group, Irakere. Yissy brought her fierceness to the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake while backing other Cuban artists Telmary Díaz and Kelvis Ochoa.

 Cuban beats  Rhythm pulsates through our veins like blood. And for Yissy García, music is not only her creative pursuit, but also part of her bloodline.  Based in Havana as a jazz drummer and leader of the quintet  Bandancha , she crafts the future of the genre by reaching back to Cuba’s yoruba ancestry and Congolese rumba as well as mixing in some American influences.

Cuban beats

Rhythm pulsates through our veins like blood. And for Yissy García, music is not only her creative pursuit, but also part of her bloodline.

Based in Havana as a jazz drummer and leader of the quintet Bandancha, she crafts the future of the genre by reaching back to Cuba’s yoruba ancestry and Congolese rumba as well as mixing in some American influences.

 A Visit to Cuba (by Playing for Change)  Cuba is a mystery: why so much amazing music, so many great musicians and music genres in this small and beautiful country? Historians and musicologists might have a logical explanation to this but I still think Cuba is blessed and blessed we were to travel there to record and film musicians. It has been quite a short but intense trip, with 4 full days of recordings in Havana. We’ve added some incredible musicians to our latest videos and also started a version around the world of the Buena Vista Classic “Chan Chan.”  Havana is obviously a unique place in the world, were time seems to have frozen dozens of years ago but despite this vintage look, Cuba is also at the vanguard of many arts, especially in music.  Check out this video of maestro Pancho Amat introducing the tres (cuban guitar) as well as photos from our recent trip to the island.

A Visit to Cuba (by Playing for Change)

Cuba is a mystery: why so much amazing music, so many great musicians and music genres in this small and beautiful country? Historians and musicologists might have a logical explanation to this but I still think Cuba is blessed and blessed we were to travel there to record and film musicians. It has been quite a short but intense trip, with 4 full days of recordings in Havana. We’ve added some incredible musicians to our latest videos and also started a version around the world of the Buena Vista Classic “Chan Chan.”

Havana is obviously a unique place in the world, were time seems to have frozen dozens of years ago but despite this vintage look, Cuba is also at the vanguard of many arts, especially in music.

Check out this video of maestro Pancho Amat introducing the tres (cuban guitar) as well as photos from our recent trip to the island.

 Yissy Garcia: born with groove   Tom Tom Magazine: You had a very early start. Your father Bernardo García (drummer of Irakere and of Arturo Sandoval’s band) is an incredible musician and it is very clear you carry music in your blood. Tell us about your musical education, both academic and at home, and the importance you think each had on your upbringing as the musician you are today.   Since I was very little I knew I was going to be a percussionist, as you said, it is something that is in my blood. At first my family thought it was a game, until they realized my passion for percussion was very serious. I started at the music academy at the age of 10. I was very lucky to have incredible teachers, school was very important in my formation as a musician. I learned to play the piano, a little bit of musical harmony, history of music and most importantly drumming technique: grip, the movement of my hands, rudiments, etc. I studied classical percussion, xylophone and timpani for 9 years. They are not the instruments I feel most comfortable with, but they are basic instruments to any music student in Cuba.   You have been part of many drumming competitions. Apart from the recognition and the prizes, what role does this experience have on your musical formation?

Yissy Garcia: born with groove

Tom Tom Magazine: You had a very early start. Your father Bernardo García (drummer of Irakere and of Arturo Sandoval’s band) is an incredible musician and it is very clear you carry music in your blood. Tell us about your musical education, both academic and at home, and the importance you think each had on your upbringing as the musician you are today.

Since I was very little I knew I was going to be a percussionist, as you said, it is something that is in my blood. At first my family thought it was a game, until they realized my passion for percussion was very serious. I started at the music academy at the age of 10. I was very lucky to have incredible teachers, school was very important in my formation as a musician. I learned to play the piano, a little bit of musical harmony, history of music and most importantly drumming technique: grip, the movement of my hands, rudiments, etc. I studied classical percussion, xylophone and timpani for 9 years. They are not the instruments I feel most comfortable with, but they are basic instruments to any music student in Cuba.

You have been part of many drumming competitions. Apart from the recognition and the prizes, what role does this experience have on your musical formation?

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I’ve participated in competitions like “Fiesta del Tambor” (Cuba), Jojazz (Cuba), Percuba (Cuba) and Master Jam (Ucrania). At first I was always thinking with competing that it was a matter of winning or losing. But with the years I have started seeing these competitions as a musical exchange. Of course you always want to take the prize home, but being a part of such a rich environment and gaining the approval of the judges and the audience is a prize in itself. Thanks to these competitions I have gained recognition as a drummer, which has lead me to being able to work with great musicians in Cuba and all around the world.

Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and Giovanni Hidalgo are two of the most influential percussionists alive and you have had the chance to play with both of them. Tell us about those experiences and what you learned from them, both musically and as human beings.

I am very lucky to know so many percussion giants, such as Giovanni Hidalgo and Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez whom I consider to be a great friend. When I started to get interested in jazz I watched their videos and thought “wow, these two guys are monsters.” Back then I never thought that I would run into, much less play alongside them. I remember it was at the Barbados Jazz Festival where we spoke for the first time. I love the way they play, their creativity and how modest and simple they both are. Those are all characteristics to follow as examples. From them I also learned that you have to study, study, study and always stay focused on your goals.

You have also worked with Arturo Tappin and Roy Hargrove, who are melody masters. How was that experience?

I love both Roy Hargrove’s and Arturo Tappin’s music. Having had the experience of playing with them was a landmark in my life, accompanying their melodies and their improvisation was a gift from life.

What are your thoughts on the influence that electronic music beats and drum machines have on contemporary drummers? How have these new ideas influenced your drumming? I can tell that Jojo Mayer is a big influence on your drumming. He has a very unique approach to drumming in which drum & bass is the style but jazz is the spirit.

I think music is always changing, there are always new genres and sub genres, etc. I particularly like some genres of electronic music, like drum & bass. My cousin is a DJ and he was the one to first show me drum & bass. As soon as I listened to it I started using some of their groove variations in my music. Right now in my band Bandancha I work with electronic elements: a drum pad as well as a DJ. I try to fuse sounds from electronic instruments with Cuban rhythms. Jazz is such a broad genre that it gives the possibility to fuse it with any style, any instrument, any sound, it is amazing. Jazz plus electronic music is one of my favorite fusions. Although it is really hard to apply ideas from computer sequencers or drum machines into the drum set, drummers like Jojo Mayer have shown us that it is possible.

Your impressive career reminds me a lot of Terri Lyne Carrington. She is also in front of her own solo project now, in which she combines jazz with more contemporary styles like rap, sampling, electronic instruments, etc. When I saw your solo project the connection was undeniable. I felt I was watching the Cuban version of Terri Lyne, and I mean that as a compliment in every way. Is there any direct influence? Are you familiar with her work?

She is one of my favorite drummers, I follow her work closely. One of my favorites is her concert (which is available on DVD) Future 2 Future with Herbie Hancock, another one of my idols. I think unconsciously Terri Lyne and I have a lot in common, our musical tastes are very similar. I have never had the chance to meet her but I am hoping that day will come soon.

Many of your solos are very groove-oriented, which is not common in jazz drummers. You have long rhythmical phrases that evolve, very melodically, very musically. Please tell us about this.

Playing around with the tempo, creating melodies and dynamics- those are my main thoughts when soloing. And of course what type of music I am soloing over is also very important, that is what drives the melodies and the phrasing. I do not like to put myself inside a box. I like many drummers that play very different and specific styles, and I think I am a combination of all of them, with my own touch, with my roots.

If you could describe what “groove” is, that which makes a drummer sound more special than another, without taking into account technical abilities, how would you describe it? And what would you say is the most important thing for a drummer to keep in mind about “groove”?

I really don’t think it is something that I can explain with words. I think it is something that each person carries inside, beyond technical abilities or virtuosity, it has to do more with feeling, feelings that one is able to translate into the instrument so well that it touches other people. Groove is something you are born with, it is not something you can study. No audience can stand still to a solid pocket groove, and to make others feel something you have to feel it first. Groove starts with each individual drummer.


PHOTOS

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POSTER'S


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VIDEOS


CONCERT SCHEDULE

PERFORMANCE DAY                                    CITY                                                      VENUE INFORMATION                

09 MAY 2018                                       Washington DC, USA                  Yissy & Bandancha

21 APR 2018                                         Praia, Cabo Verde                       Yissy & Kriol Band

16 JAN 2018                                      Vedado Havana, Cuba.                   Yissy & Bandancha La Zorra y El Cuervo

20, 21 JAN 2018                                 Louisiana, Covington                    Yissy & Bandancha

26 JAN 2018                                       Varadero, Cuba.                               Jane Bunnett- Yissy Garcia & Maqueque

03 FEB 2018                                     Jazz Festival - Quito                         Yissy & Bandancha

17 DEC 2017                         Fábrica de Arte La Habana, Cuba.          Yissy & Bandancha

09 DEC 2017                         League Ballroom, Michigan, US.            Yissy & Bandancha

08 DEC 2017                                 SOBs, New York City, USA.               Yissy & Bandancha

06 DEC 2017                     Community Center,California, USA.        Yissy & Bandancha

03 DEC 2017                                    San José, California, US.                 Yissy & Bandancha

02 DEC 2017                           Music Center- Los Angeles USA           Yissy & Bandancha

01 DEC 2017              The Dorothy Chandler -Los Angeles USA.    Yissy & Bandancha

30 NOV 2017                                Space for Photography, LA               Yissy Garcia

27 NOV 2017                    Jazz Café, Vedado, La Habana, Cuba         Yissy & Bandancha

23 NOV 2017                     Casa de la Música, La Habana, Cuba.        Yissy & Bandancha

09 NOV 2017                    Jazz Café, Vedado, La Habana, Cuba          Yissy & Bandancha

14 OCT 2017               International Theater Festival, Argentina.     Yissy & Bandancha

13 OCT 2017                      La Tangente, Buenos Aires, Argentina.      Yissy & Bandancha

11 OCT 2017                      Sala Camacúa, Montevideo, Uruguay         Yissy & Bandancha

10 OCT 2017              Museo del Cannabis, Montevideo, Uruguay   Yissy & Bandancha

30 SEP 2017                       International Jazz Festival- Chile.              Yissy & Bandancha

16 SEP 2017                       Bienal de las Américas, Denver - US           Yissy & Bandancha

15 SEP 2017                       Bienal de las Américas, Denver -US.           X Alfonso & Yissy Garcia

02 SEP 2017                             Diablo Tun Tun, Havana, Cuba              Yissy & Bandancha

29 AUG 2017                                   EFE Bar, Havana, Cuba                       Yissy & Bandancha

26 AUG 2017                         The Arlington Hotel-Ontario, US.           Jane Bunnett- Yissy Garcia & Maqueque

25 AUG 2017                    Stratford Summer FestivalOntario, US.    Jane Bunnett- Yissy Garcia & Maqueque

18,19, 20 AUG 2017        Blues Festival, British Columbia, Canada  Jane Bunnett- Yissy Garcia & Maqueque

14 AUG 2017                        Dizzys Jazz Club Lincoln Center, NYC.  Jane Bunnett- Yissy Garcia & Maqueque   

05 AUG 2017                              Fábrica de Arte - Havana, Cuba.          Yissy & Bandancha

3 y 9 MAR 2017                    La Zorra y el Cuervo, Havana, Cuba.      Yissy & Bandancha