Dafnis  Prieto
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Dafnis Prieto

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"Dafnis Prieto Sextet"

Press Quotes:

“Drummer Dafnis Prieto’s third release as a leader shows him to be a composer of considerable depth. Taking the Soul for a Walk offers 12 pieces of precise, propulsive polyrhythm and intricate parts. There’s plenty of solo playing, but the power of this music is in the ensemble’s confident communication. The performances have a sense of community, and despite the structural, harmonic and rhythmic complexity, the music packs an emotional punch… This is a splendid album that stands up to many listenings.” **** 1/2 stars
– Ned Sublette, Down Beat Magazine

“Never has the line between traditional Latin-jazz and 21st-century postbop been so wonderfully blurred as on Taking the Soul for a Walk. Drummer-composer Dafnis Prieto outlines the dance rhythms of his native Cuba, but his sextet adds complexity that evokes John Lewis’ quote about Duke Ellington: ‘His music was too exciting to dance to.’ … Subversive genre-bending or not, Taking the Soul for a Walk is solidly in the pocket – and it’s glorious.” -
– Michael J. West, Jazz Times Magazine

“(Prieto) has transformed Afro-Cuban rhythms to the trap set with a light touch and a gracefully deceptive manner of speeding up and slowing down tempos. These pieces are emotionally charged and stylistically diverse, carried along not just by rhythm but also through lovely harmonized passages, horn fanfares, and powerfully conjured moods.”
– Larry Blumenfeld, The Wall Street Journal

“… it is the strength of the arrangements of these fantastic compositions that really allows everyone to shine. Showing confident maturity and youthful excitement in their proper places, these songs simply shimmer with vitality… Music this dense and colorful is nearly impossible to describe. There are more great changes and ideas in a single track than one often finds in whole albums. Joyful, masterful, and brimming with beauty and power, "Taking the Soul for a Walk" simply astonishes, and is clearly one of the best releases I've heard so far this year.”
-– Brad Walseth, jazzchicago.net

“While Cuban-born and New York–based Prieto has already proven himself a virtuosic drummer, this masterful release (the first on his own label) insists that we recognize his remarkable gifts as a composer, too. On Taking the Soul for a Walk, Prieto gives full, emotionally articulate expression to the exile’s internal life, the angst of separation scissoring across the exhilaration of liberty. His skillful use of texture seems to double the sextet’s sound and heightens compositional nuances, and complex rhythms rub bellies together to produce an affecting dance for the spirit.”
– Mel Minter, alibi.com

“Prieto displays the best qualities of a composer on Taking the Soul for a Walk, blending tradition with personality and always finding a connection to his individual vision… (He) wisely utilizes his band members’ unique abilities to help shape his sound, creating structures that bring out their strongest performances… Taking the Soul for a Walk delivers everything that a traditional Latin Jazz promises - driving rhythms, fiery improvisations, and overall intensity; yet Prieto’s strength as a composer lifts this collection of songs into the realm of true artistry seldom seen in today’s world.”
– Chip Boaz, The Latin Jazz Corner / allaboutjazz.com

Dafnis Prieto's music explodes with energy… He is the essence of a modern drummer, propelling his original compositions with a singular passion and intensity… –The Sacramento Bee

“Prieto is a virtuoso behind a trap set but it's his creative writing and unselfish leadership that sets him apart from his peers. An elaborate hybrid of Afro-Cuban rhythms and sophisticated jazz harmonies, Prieto's compositions are complex, multi-layered affairs that surpass conventional notions of Latin jazz without sacrificing accessibility… A balance between impeccably written charts and fluid interplay, the selections veer from the impassioned to the romantic… Taking The Soul For A Walk is a well crafted blend of multi-faceted writing and heady improvisation, coupled with a highly accessible melodic foundation.”
– Troy Collins, All About Jazz

- Dafnison Music BMI


“Spirit of the Moment” Michel Camilo Trio, Telarc, 2007
“Beautiful Scars” Kip Hanrahan, American Clave, 2007
“The source in between” Elio Villafranca Quartet, C.T.M, 2007
“Refugee” Hector Martignon, Zoho Music, 2007
“Primavera en Nueva York” Martirio, Calle 54 Records, 2006
“Mosaic” Caribbean Jazz Project, Concord Picante, 2006
“Yemaya” Roberto Occhipinti, Alma Records, 2006
“Serenity Song” DD Jackson, Justin Time Records, 2006
“Sphere of Influence” Brian Lynch, EWE Records, 2006
“Metamorphosis” Yosvany Terry, EWE Records, 2005
“It Is Written” Peter Apfelbaum & the NY Hieroglyphics, Act Music, 2005
“Live in Brooklyn” Arturo O’Farrill Trio, Zoho Music, 2005
“Bad Mouth” Conjure, American Clave, 2005
“Bebo de Cuba” Bebo Valdez Big Band, BMG, 2004
“Lucidarium” Steve Coleman and Five Elements, Label Bleu, 2004
“Tribute” Tony Lujan, Bella Records, 2004
“Incantaciones Encantaciones” Elio Villafranca, Pimienta Records, 2003
“The Cusp” Roberto Occhipinti, Modica Music, 2003
“Carnival in San Juan” Papo Vazquez Pirates Troubadours, Cubop, 2003
“Birds of a Feather” Caribbean Jazz Project, Concord Picante Records, 2003
“Suite For New York” DD Jackson, Justin Time Records, 2003
“President Alien” Yerba Buena, Razor & Tie, 2003
“Cumana” Arturo O’Farrill Trio. M&I Records, 2002
“The Gathering” Caribbean Jazz Project, Concord Records, 2002
“Paraiso” Caribbean Jazz Project, Concord Picante Records, 2001
“La Perfecta II” Eddie Palmieri, Concord Records, 2002
“Up Popped the two lips” Henry Threadgill, Pi Recordings, 2001
“Everybody's mouth's a book” Henry Threadgill, Pi Recordings, 2001
“Sigame”, DD Jackson, Justin Time Records, 2001
“Descarga in New York” John Benitez Trio, Khaos, 2001
“S.F. Bay, John Santos and the Machete Ensemble” Machete Records, 2002
“Ritmo and Soul” Jane Bunnett, Blue Note, 2000
"Trinacria” Roberto Occhipinti, Modica Music, 2000
"Enclave" Columna B, Mas i Mas Records, 1998
"One 2 One" Brian Hughe, Mesa Blue, 1998
“Birds are Returning” Marilyn Lerner, Jazz Focus Records, 1997
“From Africa To Camaguey” Los Terry, Round World, 1997
“Killer Tumbao” Hilario Duran, Justin Time Records, 1997
"Cosas de Broma" Pavel and Gema, Nube Negra, 1996
“Keimoun (Beat on)" Andy Palacio, Stone Tree Records, 1995
“Zapato Kiko" Carlos Maza Grupo, EMI France, 1994
“Levitando” Ramon Valle, PM Records, 1993



Dafnis Prieto Sextet
Drummer / Composer

His arrival in the U.S. has been compared by to that of an asteroid hitting New York. Indeed, within a short period of time Dafnis Prieto's revolutionary drumming techniques had a powerful impact on both the Latin and jazz music scene, locally and internationally. Having studied at the school of Fine Arts in Santa Clara as a youngster and later at the National School of Music in Havana, Prieto obtained a thorough classical education while broadening his knowledge of Afro-Cuban music, jazz and world music outside of the academy.

He first toured Europe with pianists Carlos Maza and Ramon Valle and the groundbreaking group “Columna B.” A resident of New York since only 1999, he has already played in bands led by Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman, Eddie Palmieri, Chico and Arturo O'Farrill, Dave Samuels & The Caribbean Jazz Project, Jane Bunnett, D.D. Jackson, Edward Simon, Michel Camilo, Chucho Valdez, Claudia Acuña, Roy Hargrove, Don Byron, and Andrew Hill, among others. He has performed at many national and international music festivals as a sideman and as bandleader.

As a composer, he has created music for dance, film, chamber ensembles, and most notably for his own bands, ranging from duets to his “Small Big Band” and including the distinctively different groups featured on his two acclaimed recordings as a leader, “About The Monks,” and “Absolute Quintet.” He has received new works commissions, grants, and fellowships from Chamber Music America, Jazz at Lincoln Center, East Carolina University, and Meet the Composer. Various awards include “Up & Coming Musician of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2006, a Grammy Award Nomination for ”Absolute Quintet” as Best Latin Jazz Album, and a Latin Grammy Nomination for “Best New Artist” in 2007. Also a gifted educator, Prieto has conducted numerous master classes, clinics, and workshops. Since 2005, he has been a member of the NYU Music Faculty.

Dafnis Prieto endorses Yamaha drum, Latin Percussion, Sabian Cymbals, Vick Firth sticks
& Evans drumheads.