Dafnis Prieto is easily the most impressive young drummer to come on the jazz scene during the past decade. Possessing awesome virtuosity and astonishing versatility, Prieto has made important contributions since arriving from Cuba to the music of a broad range of leaders, from Eddie Palmieri and Chucho Valdes, to Steve Coleman and Henry Threadgill, to Claudia Acu'a and Michel Camilo. On About The Monks , his debut as leader, he's joined by veteran trumpeter Brian Lynch and fellow recent arrivals saxophonist Yosvany Terry, pianist Luis Perdomo, and bassist Hans Glawischnig. The cohesive unit burns through a program of original music by the precocious percussionist on which he proves himself to be a composer with abilities equal to those he has long displayed as a player.
Prieto's compositions are elaborate composites melding Afro-Cuban rhythms and modern jazz harmonies into music that is ecstatic and intelligent. The title track commences as a straight-ahead Latin jazz piece, full of Spanish-tinged fanfare and Jazz Messenger bravura that shows off the front line to great effect and goes into a drum feature that begins like a tipico timbales solo and moves into a samba section, with all the bells and whistles, on which the drummer sounds like a one-man carnival. On "Tumba Francesca" he utilizes an Afro-Haitian form popular in Cuba to create a new piece on which Lynch's steeped-in-folklore trumpet and Terry's Trane-influenced tenor are driven by his cowbell and woodblock augmented drum kit. A trio track, the foreboding "Ironico Arlequin," reveals Prieto's ability to convey a variety of emotions in even the simplest settings.
The rhythm section opens "Danzon Santa Clara" with an upbeat introduction before soprano and flugelhorn state the charming traditional melody, which moves through a variety of tempos, culminating in Prieto's energetic soloing over a Perdomo montuno and riffing horns. The episodic "On and On" begins boppishly and traverses diversely emotional musical territory in a clever portrayal of a relentless conversationalist. "Trio Absolute" features Perdomo's Fender Rhodes on an exploration of changing claves.
Violinist Ilmar Gavilan replaces Lynch on "Mechanical Movement," a contrapuntal polyphonic Threadgill influenced award-winning composition written by Prieto for a modern dance performance. "Interrupted Question" is another multifaceted song relating a life experience. The date ends with "Conga En Ti," a solo performance on which the leader's voice and keyboards supplement his percussion. The track reveals the influence of Hermeto Pascoal and forecasts Prieto's development as one of the most important new composers in jazz today.
Track Listing: 1. About the Monks;
2. Tumba Francesca;
3. Ironico Arlequin;
4. Danzon Santa Clara;
5. On and On;
6. Listen Now! Trio Absolute;
7. Mechanical Movement;
8. Interrupted Question;
9. Listen Now! Conga en Ti.
Personnel: Dafnis Prieto: Percussion, Drums, Keyboards, Vocals, Melodica; Brian Lynch: Trumpet, Flugelhorn;
Yosvany Terry: Alto, Soprano, Tenor Sax; Chekere Luis Perdomo: Piano, Fender Rhodes; Hans
Glawischnig: Bass; Ilmar Gavilan: Violin.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.