“From Cuba, With Rhythm, Taking Jazz By Storm: Dafnis Prieto Makes His Mark in New York”: that was how New York Times senior jazz critic Ben Ratliff headlined his 2002 feature article on the then 27-year-old drummer, percussionist and composer from Santa Clara, Cuba.
After training at Cuba’s National School of Music, Prieto toured with Canadian reedist and bandleader Jane Bunnett, then in 1999 settled in New York, where he joined the groups of avant-garde saxophonists Henry Threadgill and Steve Coleman, as well as trumpeter Brian Lynch. At the same time, Prieto swiftly became first-call drummer in an ever-widening circle of important Latin Jazz and jazz-fusion groups, including the ensembles of Eddie Palmieri, Papo Vazquez, Arturo O’Farrill, Chucho Valdes, Michel Camilo, Arturo Sandoval, Edward Simon, and Dave Samuels’s Caribbean Jazz Project. (He has also done sideman stints with Roy Hargrove, Don Byron, and Andrew Hill.)
“He is extraordinary, a rhythmic stimulus” comments Palmieri, the legendary salsa bandleader, who rarely used a trap-set drummer in his band before hiring Prieto. “He comprehends the two most incredibly difficult rhythmic genres—being Cuban and being an extremely talented jazz drummer.”
As a composer, Prieto has written for dance, film, and chamber ensembles—and of course for the distinctively different groups featured on his three acclaimed recordings as a leader, “About The Monks,” “Absolute Quintet,” and “Taking The Soul for a Walk,” the latter released in 2008 on his own label, Dafnison Music. (Members of the sextet featured on that album--saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum, pianist Manuel Valera, and bassist Armando Gola--will join Prieto in Arcata.) “The essence of Prieto's style,” says Ratliff, “is his collation of various Afro-Cuban percussion sounds—from old religious music to modern music—within one set of trap drums. His playing is infernally complicated, and infernally precise; the blizzard of accents he throws into any pattern have their place as surely as pixels in a computer image.”
Prieto has received commissions, grants, and fellowships from Chamber Music America, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Meet the Composer. The Jazz Journalists Association named him “Up & Coming Musician of the Year” in 2006, the same year that “Absolute Quintet” received a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album. (Prieto himself was nominated for a Latin Grammy as “Best New Artist” in 2007.)
A gifted educator, Prieto has also conducted numerous master classes, clinics, and workshops around the country and around the world, and he has been a member of the NYU Music Faculty since 2005.
(Adapted from Hans Wendl Produktion, Zoho Music, and The New York Times)
Tickets ($15 General
Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) are available here
at our website, or
(in mid-October) at People's Records and The Works.
Dafnis Prieto will also
present a FREE public workshop on Friday morning, October 31st at 11:00 on the stage of Fulkerson Recital Hall on
the HSU campus.
More Information on Dafnis Prieto:
Listen to an audio stream of Dafnis Prieto's music by clicking on the "Launch Player" button below (note: our player is incompatible with the newly released Flash version 10):
Listen to Dafnis Prieto on the phone with the Redwood Jazz Alliance (recorded October 22d):