If you're curious about new directions in Latin jazz, then let percussionist Dafnis Prieto's About the Monks
point the way. Upon arriving from Cuba in 1999, Prieto has been a key performer with some heavy names, like avant-garde saxophonist Henry Threadgill and Latin heavyweights Eddie Palmieri, Chucho Valdes, and Michael Camillo. Not just your typical Afro-Cuban drummer, Prieto combines cultural rhythms with mainstream and free jazz styles that speak of a fresh outlook similar to other younger jazz artists, such as pianist Luis Perdomo and saxophonist Yosvany Terry, who both appear on Prieto's new release.
These compositions were written by Prieto and feature a hot quintet including Perdermo and Terry, along with veteran trumpeter Brian Lynch and bassist Hans Glawischnig. While the infectious horns and Cuban clave rhythms comprise the essential ingredients, the underlying spirit draws from integrated sources on pieces such as "Ironico Arlequin" and "Danzon Santa Clara," which include dance rhythms and heavy improvisation. One of the most captivating pieces is "On and On," which dons shifting melody patterns, horn arrangements, and strong solos from Lynch and Terry.
Prieto's drumming is kinetic yet never overpowering. He unselfishly allows his band the lion's share of the solos, yet his presence is the heartbeat of the recording. Added touches include Perdomo's Fender Rhodes work on "Trio Absolute," guest violinist Ilmar Gavilan's playing on the abstract "Mechanical Movement," and Prieto's one man carnivale show, "Congo En Ti," which keep things interesting and stretch them beyond the norm.
Personnel: Dafnis Prieto - Percussion, Drums, Keyboards, Vocals, Melodica;
Yosvany Terry Sax - Saxophones, Chekere;
Hans Glawischnig - Bass;
Brian Lynch - Trumpet, Flugelhorn;
Luis Perdomo- Piano, Fender Rhodes;
Ilmar Gavilan - Violin (track 7)