Musician - Percussionist
The archetype of an Afro-Cuban jazz drummer would probably be Chano Pozo, the pioneering "conguero" whose infuence on jazz was heard around the world. He wrote "Manteca" while he was with Dizzy Gillespie’s band. He had forearms the size of tree trunks. He died in 1948.
Somewhere near the opposite end of this spectrum, in the small Havana flat she shares with her parents, siblings and grandmother, Yissy sits down behind a modern drum kit. That’s right: she’s not playing congas today. She’s 21, has the sinewy good looks of a supermodel, and plays as if she were already the legend she seems on her way to becoming.
She lays down a solid clave pattern, a nod to the Yoruba percussive tradition that forms the basis for so much of Cuban music, but it’s only a point of departure for her. Yissy’s drumsticks hit altitude with a flourish that would make her stand out in any rock band. Then she cruises into a more relaxed series of bebop riffs that recall the playing of Kenny Clarke or Max Roach. If there’s anything Yissy can’t play, you’d never know it.
Move aside, Chano. There’s a new drummer in town and she’s ready to take on the world.