Dafnis Prieto Si o Si Quartet | Live at Jazz Standard NYC

DafnisonMusic (2009)
By JON GARELICK  |  October 14, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

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Prieto is one of the supermen drummers of contemporary jazz — Cuban-born, fluent in all idioms, a multitude of patterns flowing through him and into his hands and feet at any given point. That’s clear in the layered, precise metrics of his introduction to the opening “Si o Si,” which is all clings, claps, and clatters, rims and heads and muted cymbals, bassist Charles Flores picking up the vamp, then pianist Manuel Valera with the full-blown theme, then Peter Apfelbaum’s tenor.

But that original clatter-clap figure follows everyone through the entire piece — from the ascending, exultant bridge to the subdued tenor solo that builds to bravura swaths of sound. There’s plenty of Coltrane in this album — in the static-vamp harmonies, in the mantra-like spiritual theme of “Just Go.”

But Prieto’s pieces are always defined with those clear, original outlines and rhythmic through-ideas — a vamp, or a skittery little piano melody like “Claveteo,” or the prog-rock big beat and stomping theme of “Ilu-Uli,” which then takes off into a post-bop bridge. There’s dynamic variety throughout (and wonderful moments of quietude when Apfelbaum duets with Flores), and Prieto even gets away with a bit of synthesizer, turning frou-frou into true-blue mood.

DAFNIS PRIETO SI O SI QUARTET | Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, 85 West Newton St, Boston | October 16 at 8 pm | $20 | 617.927.1717 or www.villavictoriaarts.org

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