Transparency (Dafnison Music)

Dafnis Prieto Sextet

Released October 2, 2020

Grammy Nominee for Best Latin Jazz Album 2022

2020 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll Top 10 Latin Album

Cubadisco Awards Nomination Best Jazz Album 2021




As the follow-up to his 2018 GRAMMY-winning big band album, Back to the Sunset, which DownBeat called “one of the best recordings of the year,” Cuban-born drummer, composer, educator, and 2011 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Dafnis Prieto returns with his newest album, Transparency, from his Dafnis Prieto Sextet, out on Friday, October 2, 2020 on Prieto’s independent music label, Dafnison Music, and nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Jazz Album! Prieto’s fearless Sextet features a top-shelf lineup, including Román Filiú (Alto & Soprano Sax), Alex Norris (Trumpet), Peter Apfelbaum (Tenor Sax, Melodica & Percussion), Alex Brown (Piano), and Johannes Weidenmueller (Acoustic & Electric Bass).

Transparency is the third release by the Dafnis Prieto Sextet, following 2008’s Taking the Soul for a Walk and 2015’s Triangles and Circles. The album includes nine tracks, with all new compositions by Prieto and an arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie’s classic, “Con Alma.” The music embraces transparency in all its forms in music and life, celebrating moments fleeting and fragile, simple and beautiful.

Prieto offers this guiding declaration for the project:

Transparency / A see-through repertoire.
Transparent ideas, communication, and relationships.
The clarity of intentions. A single glance. The simplicity of beauty.
The transparent connection to life and everything in it.
The depth, the surface, the fragility of existence.
A sincere breath of fresh air, a transparent statement.

The album, produced by GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY-winning producer Eric Oberstein (Prieto’s collaborator on Back to the Sunset), and engineered by GRAMMY winner Mike Marciano, was recorded in New York City in early March 2020 just prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, following a four-night run at the world-famous Jazz Standard.

Oberstein writes, “This album lays bare Dafnis Prieto’s vision and voice as a major composer, arranger, and drummer —  vibrant, melodic, multi-hued, and always with intention and joy. It has been an honor continuing our collaboration, working with this masterful band on this powerful project, which is transparent in every sense of the word.”

Since arriving in the U.S. from Cuba in 1999, Prieto has honed his forward-looking musical vision across a range of styles and formats. In the process, he has become equally known for his composing and arranging talents and his electrifying drumming, comfortable exploring a wide spectrum of musical vocabular­ies.

Transparency is Prieto’s eighth album as a leader, and his latest release on his Dafnison Music label, which he founded in 2008. Dafnison Music serves as an entrepreneurial platform for Prieto to release his musical projects, as well as his books on drumming and rhythm.

A gifted educator, currently serving on the faculty at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, Prieto recently released his second book, Rhythmic Synchronicity, written for non-drummers and inspired by a course of the same name that he developed at Frost. In 2016 Prieto published the groundbreaking analytical and instructional drum book, A World of Rhythmic Possibilities, which captures Prieto’s very personal approach to rhythm and life. While in-person performances are on hold, Prieto has remained active online, recently launching a series of filmed lessons and solo performances on his website.

Track Listing:

1. Amanecer Contigo 6:21

2. No Es Facil 8:24

3. Uncerntradition 7:42

4. Con Alma 9:01

5. Cry With Me 6:54

6. On the Way 6:33

7. Feed The Lions 6:09

8. Nothing or Everything 7:57

9. Lazy Blues 3:21


Román Filiú: alto & soprano sax
Alex Norris: trumpet
Peter Apfelbaum: tenor sax, melodica & percussion
Alex Brown: piano
Johannes Weidenmueller: acoustic & electric bass
Dafnis Prieto: drums & music director

Recorded March 9 & 10, 2020 at The Samurai Hotel Recording Studio, Astoria, NY, by Mike Marciano
Produced by Dafnis Prieto & Eric Oberstein
Executive Producers: Lindsay Evans, Harsha Murthy
Mixing & Mastering Engineer: Mike Marciano Assistant Engineer: Max Ross
Mixing: Mike Marciano, Dafnis Prieto & Eric Oberstein
Cover & Package Design: Michael Quanci
Cover Photo: Henry Lopez
Package Photography: David Garten


In Cuban music, emotional grandeur and extravagant virtuosity is built on a foundation of inexhaustible rhythm. So, it’s no surprise to find an abundance of juicy melodies and breathtaking drumming on Transparency from drummer and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Dafnis Prieto.
Yet for all the astonishing things he does behind the kit, what stands out on Transparency is the dazzling formal sophistication of Prieto’s compositions. Eight of the nine composer credits are his and the outlier, an arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma” as a ballad in five, is so transformed as to seem like his alone.
Prieto builds on a foundation of strong, often cinematic melodies and sturdy rhythms, but the devil is in the unexpected and delightful details. The short, shuffle-rhythm tag he adds to the solos section of “Uncerntradition” is like a head nod to the Jazz Messengers editions with the same trumpet, alto and tenor saxophone front line featured here.
“Cry With Me” begins with a vaulting, tumbling drum solo over which the horns introduce a unison chorale figure that returns after Peter Apfelbaum’s sprinting tenor saxophone solo over a boiling conga rhythm. When Prieto shifts to a fast three for Alex Norris’ trumpet solo, the chorale theme bounces to Alex Brown’s piano then back to the horns under Roman Filiu’s alto solo, but this time with an added syncopation. Prieto drops in short, breathtaking drum breaks after each of the horn solos in a kind of rondo structure, each break introducing a new rhythm. The last lands unexpectedly and delightfully in classic swing time, with the chorale figure now reincarnated as a syncopated Horace Silver riff.

There are compositional wrinkles like this in every cut, and they’re easy to miss as you’re swept along by the rhythmic whirlwind set up by Prieto, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and Brown. But while classic Afro-Cuban rhythms are always present, they are seldom foregrounded. Prieto likes to mix things up. So, a galloping seven-(or maybe fourteen-) beat rhythm drives “On This Way,” for which Brown sustains a finger-busting Scott-Joplin-meets-Conlon- Nancarrow piano figure for an inhuman length of time. Weidenmueller on electric bass kicks off “Nothing or Everything” in 11 and only Prieto knows how many multiple intersecting rhythmic cycles are on “Feed the Lions,” a piece strongly reminiscent of Prieto’s old boss, Steve Coleman. Only the 1960s boogaloo “Lazy Blues,” which is essentially a drum solo marked off by occasional piano stabs, sounds simple. Yet for all Prieto’s architectural complexity, the surge of melody and the constant pull of the beat provide an easy path through the sixty-six minutes of music.
Dafnis Prieto has long been able to turn his drum kit into a one-man Cuban percussion section of cowbell, congas and timbales, holding four different rhythms together at once. On Transparency, he does the same thing with melody, harmony and form, and he makes it sound easy.

John Chacona (All About Jazz)