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Artist Profile: Dafnis Prieto



Dafnis Prieto

Dafnis PrietoDafnis Prieto hails from Santa Clara, Cuba. His revolutionary drumming techniques and compositions have had a powerful impact on the Latin and Jazz music scene, nationally and internationally.

Various awards include a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship, Up & Coming Musician of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2006, a GRAMMY nomination for Absolute Quintet as Best Latin Jazz Album, and a Latin GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist in 2007. Also a gifted educator, Prieto has conducted master classes, clinics, and workshops throughout the world. He was a faculty member of Jazz Studies at NYU from 2005 to 2014, and in 2015 became a faculty member at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.

Since his arrival to New York in 1999, Prieto has worked in bands led by Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman, Eddie Palmieri, Chico and Arturo O’Farrill, Dave Samuels and The Caribbean Jazz Project, Jane Bunnett, D.D. Jackson, Edward Simon, Michel Camilo, Chucho Valdés, Bebo Valdés, Roy Hargrove, Don Byron, and Andrew Hill, among others. He has performed at many national and international music festivals as a sideman and as a bandleader featuring several of his own projects and music.

As a composer, he has created music for dance, film, chamber ensembles, and most notably for his own bands, ranging from duets to big band, and including the distinctively different groups featured on seven acclaimed recordings as a leader: About The MonksAbsolute QuintetTaking the Soul For a WalkSi o Si Quartet: Live at Jazz StandardDafnis Prieto Proverb Trio, Triangles and Circles, and Back to the Sunset. He has received commissions, grants, and fellowships from Chamber Music America, Jazz at Lincoln Center, East Carolina University, and Meet the Composer. In 2016 Prieto published the critically acclaimed drumming instructional book, A World of Rhythmic Possibilities: Drumming Lessons and Reflections on Rhythms. In 2018 Back to the Sunset – Dafnis Prieto Big Band was released to critical acclaim. A 61st Grammy Awards nominated album, it was chosen as the winner in the Best Latin Jazz Album Category.

Dafnis Prieto is the founder of the independent music company Dafnison Music. He endorses Yamaha Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Latin Percussion, Evans Drumheads, and Vic Firth Sticks.

Honors, Grants & Commissions

  • National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures (NALAC) Fund for the Arts Grant, Dafnis Prieto Big Band, 2018
  • Commissioned by the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, for a new work for the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, ‘The Triumphant Journey’, 2014
    • Opening track of the Latin GRAMMY-winning album, Cuba: The Conversation Continues, 2015
  • MacArthur Fellowship, 2011
  • Commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, 2009
  • Commissioned by WNYC, for a New Work, 2009
  • Commissioned by Jazz at Lincoln Center, for a new work for the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, ‘Song for Chico’, 2005
    • Title track of the GRAMMY-winning album, Song for Chico, 2008
  • Commissioned by Meet the Composer, Commissioning Music, 2007
  • Latin GRAMMY Nomination, Best New Artist, 2007
  • GRAMMY Nomination, Best Latin Jazz Album, Dafnis Prieto Absolute Quintet, 2006
  • Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Award, Up & Coming Musician of the Year, 2006
  • Commissioned by the Ethos Percussion Group, under auspices of the Jerome Foundation, ‘The Guiros Talk’, a piece for 4 guiros (1 mov) & ‘Claveteando’, a piece for 4 sets of percussion (2 mov), 2006
  • Commissioned by the New Trumpet Consortium, a piece for trumpet & percussion, ‘Trail of Memories’, 2005
  • Commissioned by East Carolina University (Greenville, NC) to write a piece, ‘Echo Dimensions’, for the Meridian Arts Ensemble (Brass Quintet & Percussion), 2005
  • Meet the Composer Van Lier Fellowship, 2005
  • Commissioned by The Painted Bride, Philadelphia, 2005
  • Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Award, 2005
  • Commissioned by the CBC in Toronto, Canada to write a piece, ‘On and On’, for the True North Brass Quintet, 2004
  • Composed music for the GRAMMY-winning album, The Gathering, by The Caribbean Jazz Project, 2002

Music & Dance Collaborations

  • Music for ‘Taking the Soul for a Walk’, Ballet Contemporaneo de Camaguey, Pedro Ruiz, Artistic Director, performed at Teatro Avellaneda, Camaguey, Cuba, June 2017 & Teatro Martí, Havana, Cuba, August 2017
  • Music for the dance work, ‘Citizens and Individuals?’, Commissioned by Danspace Project, 2005
  • ‘Time in Circles’, The Joyce Theater, NYC, Spring 2002
  • ‘Forms and Sounds’, The Jazz Gallery, NYC, 2002
  • ‘Puzzle/Rompecabezas’, The Kitchen, NYC, Fall 2002
  • ‘Sang’, Danspace Project, Spring 2002
  • ‘A Mouth in a Sleeping Shell’, PS 122, NYC, Winter 2000
  • ‘Un Lugar’, Havana, 1996

Latin Jazz Network is a project dedicated to the advancement of Latin jazz and its creators. Since 2000 LJN has been spreading the word about this wonderful music known under the umbrella term: LATIN JAZZ.

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