Live at Jazz Standard NYC, by the Si o Si Quartet, is drummer/bandleader/composer Dafnis Prieto's fourth album of all-original material, cementing his reputation as a formidable technician and visionary. Returning from his previous release are Peter Apfelbaum (tenor and soprano saxophones, melodica) and Manuel Valera (keyboards), while acoustic and electric bassist Charles Flores is his partner-in-rhythm from the Michel Camilo Trio.
A vibrant set, Live at Jazz Standard NYC shows off Prieto's polyrhythmic prowess: orchestrated across the drum kit, each limb playing independently, his time is dense but uncongested, intense without ostentation. The tunes blend challenging harmonies with elements of Latin music and progressive jazz, many in additive time signatures. As principal soloists, Apfelbaum and Valera have complementary musical personalitiesthe saxophonist intuitive, offhandedly charismatic, the pianist more deliberate, relentlessly creative.
Apfelbaum plays coolly ecstatic tenor on "Claveteo" then expressively slurred attacks and dynamic mood contrasts on "Just Go"; his soprano is unsentimentally plaintive on "3 Poems 1 Song," more lyrical on "Me Neither." Valera uses punchy figures on "Claveteo" and vociferous 16th-note phrases on "Ilu-Uli," creates contemporary moods for "Just Go" and "Me Neither" with lush but edgy chords then propels "Trio Absolute" with an insistent vamp figure and forceful soloing. "Me Neither" and "Seven by Seven" feature Apfelbaum and Valera's harmonized melodicas, an instrument rarely heard on the scene today, but a distinctive voice in the hands of Apfelbaum. On pieces like "3 Poems 1 Song" and "Thoughts," the quartet demonstrates their ability to perform extremely complex, mercurially shifting music with seemingly effortless aplomb. For "Trio Absolute," Prieto brings his percussive skills to the forefront, keeping three and four parts going simultaneously in uncanny rhythmic counterpoint, never losing his feel or flow.
Si o Si; Claveteo; Seven by Seven; Ilu-Uli; Just Go; 3 Poems 1 Song; Me Neither; Thoughts; Intro Absolute; Trio Absolute.
Peter Apfelbaum: tenor & soprano saxophones, bass melodica, percussion; Manuel Valera: piano, keyboard, melodica; Charles Flores: acoustic & electric bass; Dafnis Prieto: drums, vocal, clave.