Since his arrival in New York in 1999, Cuban born drummer Dafnis Prieto has established himself as a prized sideman, having served alongside Latin jazz masters like Michel Camillo, Eddie Palmieri and Chucho Valdez, as well as modernists like Don Byron, Steve Coleman and Henry Threadgill.
His first album on his own Dafnison Music label, Taking The Soul For A Walk is his third release as a leader, following the Grammy nominated Absolute Quintet (Zoho, 2006) and his debut recording, About The Monks (Zoho, 2005).
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.
Prieto's capable sextet features trumpeter Avishai Cohen and saxophonists Peter Apfelbaum and Yosvany Terry. Stirring soloists, they navigate tricky contrapuntal harmonies, elevate celebratory themes with fervid elation and lend sentimental odes a veneer of soulful lyricism.
Pianist Manuel Valera and bassist Yunior Terry join Prieto in layering traditional clave patterns with multiple staggered polyrhythms. Together they stretch the formal restrains of Latin jazz into uncharted territory, creating unpredictable structures.
A balance between impeccably written charts and fluid interplay, the selections veer from the impassioned to the romantic. The opening title track gracefully ascends staggered patterns, culminating in an explosive solo from the leader. "Just Say It" is a roiling excursion while "Emergency Call" offers a post modern, Afro-Cuban twist on Milesian fusion. Integrating Cuban street rhythms with knotty counterpoint, "I Felt You Were Coming" merges labyrinthine precision with fervent expressionism.
Demonstrating compositional restraint and lyrical maturity, "Until the Last Minute" frames a sweetly nostalgic danzon, while "Tell Me About Her" reveals a timeless variation on the piano trio tradition.
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.
Personnel: Dafnis Prieto: drums; Peter Apfelbaum: C soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, melodica; Yosvany Terry: Bb soprano saxophone, alto saxophone; Avishai Cohen: trumpet; Yunior Terry: acoustic bass; Manuel Valera: piano, Fender Rhodes; Itai Kriss: flute (10).