Since coming to New York in '99, visionary Cuban drummer/percussionist/educator Dafnis Prieto
has been the heartbeat in bands led by Henry Threadgill
, Eddie Palmieri
, Michel Camilo
, Chucho Valdez, Bebo Valdez, Roy Hargrove
, and Andrew Hill
. He's found the time to be nominated for an '07 Grammy for Best Latin Album, Absolute Quintet
(Soho, 2006); win a MacArthur Fellowship, be a jazz studies faculty member at NYU, and, in 2015 Prieto became a faculty member of Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Somewhere amid all that he brought together multiple award winning Frost alumni, namely saxophonist Tom Kelley
, trumpeter Sam Neufeld
, tenor saxman Sean Johnson, pianist and keyboardist Nick Lamb
, bassist Jon Dadurka, and drummer Jonathan Hulett, to form the Kairos Sextet and record their fiery debut Transition
The title track goes for the gusto from the very get-go with a propulsive rhythm attack and horn army who bop and pop with the best of them. Which shouldn't surprise anyone listening for this team has individually played with many of the best, including Terence Blanchard
, Alex Acuña
, Dave Liebman
, Joe Lovano, and Dianne Reeves
. Pick any of the eight groove-crazy tunes here and you'll be elevated by the energy and sheer celebration of sound. "Sunspot" is a playful reverie, each player getting his chance to shine. "On and On" starts out on a hypnotic bass pulse and moves quickly to an ensemble showcase, the horns in tandem or solo, dancing like kids splashing in a pool. "Triangles and Circles," a Prieto original, displays the free compositional form that he's become noted for. With each track highlighting a tightly wound arrangement, Transition
is a sure-fire winner and harbinger of greater things to come.
Transition; Sunspot; (No) Time to Spare; On and On; Triangles and Circles; Dafnison; I Remember You; Thrive.
Tom Kelley: alto and soprano sax; Sam Neufeld: trumpet; Sean Johnson: tenor sax; Nick Lamb: piano, keyboards; Jon Dadurka: upright and electric bass; Johnathan Hulett: drums.