Dafnis Prieto

Absolute Quintet

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As befitting the talents of a most unusual drummer, Dafnis Prieto comes up with a most unusual lineup of instruments for his second album as a leader -- drums, keyboards, saxophone, violin, and cello. There's no bass on the session, but there is no critical lack of a low end; either Jason Lindner's keyboards or Dana Leong's cello seem to fill the bottom nicely enough. Above all, Prieto's amazing hand-and-foot coordination seeps into all possible gaps; his multi-faceted command of the drum kit makes you think that there are two or more percussionists on the session (he creates the same illusion in live performance). The album leads off with the cool, wailing wah-wah keyboard, funky complex beat, and South Indian scatting of the appropriately named "The Coolest." But other titles seem ironic, if not misleading. "The Stutterer," the most striking piece of work on the CD, is pure rhythm -- all angles and discords, everyone trying to match the polyrhythms of Prieto with no pretense of following a tune. Yet it comes together in a coherent, even funky fusion, hardly stuttering at all. Dominated by guest alto saxophonist Henry Threadgill (Yosvany Terry is the able reedman on the other tracks), "Afrotango" is anything but, for it doesn't conform to a tango rhythm. In the center of the album, Prieto tries an impressionistic, long-form piece, "One Day Suite" -- with arco and pizzicato solos for violinist Christian Howes and Leong and unaccompanied stretches for Lindner's organ and Prieto depicting the morning, a lazy afternoon interlude, and a joyous, hip-hoppy Prieto groove in the evening. Prieto's way is a good place for jazz to go if it wants to break out of its straight-ahead straitjacket.

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