Dafnis Prieto: To the Sunset… and Beyond

Dafnis Prieto: To the Sunset… and Beyond
Back to The Sunset – Dafnis Prieto Big Band in the recording studio

RdG: How much of teaching is directed at the intellect and how much to fire up the feeling that comes from the guts?

DP: I like to use both of them, the intellect and the guts will always do great things together. Most of the time there is a great deal of understanding that has to be done through an intellectual process. The guts or intuition comes into play when there is human action and reaction. The fun part starts when everything becomes just one whole ‘thing’.

RdG: Do you think that teaching restricts intuition?

DP: I don’t think teaching restricts intuition. Teaching doesn’t only mean to teach students how to read music, or teach rules and theory, but how to play and interpret music in different ways and different levels, and for that you’ll require a lot of intuitive decisions. I personally teach from a creative point of view, not from preconceived notions that exist in this world. So intuition is always part of the mix, at all times… Of course, everyone; every teacher is also different, and will make their own (optimal) individual decisions based on their current knowledge, and their intuition.

On Music and Cuba

RdG: Do you believe that because you come from Cuba there is a certain musical expectation?

Grammy© Award Winning trumpeter Brian Lynch

DP: I think that depends on who is looking at me. Of course, people will make first associations based on their previous experiences. I don’t really pay attention to what people expect, or not. I once played somewhere in Europe and someone came after the concert and said that he was disappointed that I didn’t play Cuban music. What can I say to that?

RdG: What is the difference between teaching institutions in Cuba and those in the United States?

DP: I have always seen teaching as a relationship between the teacher and the student, and not between an institution and the students. The two systems are certainly different, but what really makes any school is the quality of the teachers and the students, regardless where they come from.

RdG: Do you consider your music Afro-Caribbean if you do not use recognizable Afro-Caribbean harmonic rhythmic or motifs?

DP: I don’t consider my music Afro-Caribbean. I don’t think or create music by genres or categories. I like to write the music I “hear” and want people to hear; not the one I’ve already heard.

RdG: Is “expectation” a crippling factor in music?

DP: It depends what is expected.

On Music

RdG: Composition or Improvisation…? How do you make both aspects work in your own music?

DP: They both come out of each other, I’m improvising when I compose, and I’m composing when I improvise.

RdG: Can music be composed on the drums? What do you use?

DP: Of course, music can be composed on the drum set, but certainly not the music I’ve written for my albums. I normally use the piano to compose and arrange, and the process is always an open journey. Many times, the last thing I think of in the composition process is the drum part, maybe because is so close to me.

RdG: Thank you Dafnis…

DP: My pleasure, thank you.

Raul Da Gama
Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

More from author


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts


Featured Posts

Celebrating Jane Bunnett: Spirits of Havana’s 30th Anniversary

After dark they gather, the spirits of Havana. Is that a ghostly, but fatback-toned rapping down in the barrio where the great composer and...

Piazzolla Cien Años: Lord of the Tango@100

There is a now famous photograph of the great Ástor Piazzolla that is iconic for so many reasons. Chief among them is the manner...

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

El Gran Fellové: Part 2- Enter Chocolate & Celio González

Early Sunday morning… I awoke to the pleasant surprise of a Google Alert in my email. I clicked to find Variety Magazine had published an...

El Gran Fellové: Part 1- The Beginning

Francisco Fellové Valdés (October 7, 1923 – February 15, 2013), also known as El Gran Fellové (The Great Fellove), was a Cuban songwriter and...

Bobby Paunetto, New York City and The Synthesis of Music

Bobby Paunetto was an unforgettable composer, arranger, musician and recording artist. Latin Jazz Network honors him on the tenth anniversary of his death (8.10.10). His...

Jazz Plaza 2020: Ancient to the Future

Chapter four of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana In recent months I found myself in profound reflection of the term...

Ray Martinez and the Forgotten Legacy of Jazz

Sometime in the very near future, several of the jazz world's best known writers and musicologists will meet in some obscure conclave to pool...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more