DRUMMER | COMPOSER | BANDLEADER | EDUCATOR | MACARTHUR 'GENIUS' FELLOW
From Santa Clara, Cuba, Dafnis Prieto’s revolutionary drumming techniques and compositions have had a powerful impact on the Latin and Jazz music scene, nationally and internationally.
Various honors include a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship, Up & Coming Musician of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2006, a 2018 GRAMMY Award and Latin GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album for Dafnis Prieto Big Band Back to the Sunset, a GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album for Absolute Quintet in 2006, 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 Monks, Absolute Quintet, Taking the Soul For a Walk, Si o Si Quartet: Live at Jazz Standard, Dafnis 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.
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
GRAMMY Award, Best Latin Jazz Album, Dafnis Prieto Big Band Back to the Sunset, 2019
Latin GRAMMY Nomination, Best Latin Jazz Album, Dafnis Prieto Big Band Back to the Sunset, 2018
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, 2007
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