Inspired to make his biggest statement yet, Cuban-born drummer, composer, bandleader, and 2011 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Dafnis Prieto presented the world premiere of the Dafnis Prieto Big Band (DPBB) at the Jazz Standard in New York City August 25-27, 2017. The band recorded their debut album in New York City immediately following their three-night run at the Jazz Standard, to be released worldwide in spring 2018.

One of the leading musical voices of his generation, Prieto has both composed and arranged new repertoire for big band, showcasing his talents as a trailblazing composer while honoring musical heroes and mentors such as Eddie Palmieri, Chico O'Farrill, Michel Camilo, Henry Threadgill, and Steve Coleman, among others.

Since arriving in the U.S. from Cuba in 1999, Prieto has been fearless in his vision, playing and writing across styles, always with a forward-looking eye. He is known for his inventive, sensitive drumming and propulsive rhythm. His compositions mix lush melodies with polyrhythm, displaying a range of musical vocabularies from Latin jazz to classical chamber music. He has composed for numerous configurations, amassing a catalog of more than 50 original works.

Prieto is committed to maintaining a bold vision for his music. The 17-piece DPBB includes some of the world’s best Latin jazz musicians, many of whom have previously played his music in his other bands. For this project Prieto is teaming up with GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY-winning producer Eric Oberstein, long known for his work producing big band projects with Arturo O’Farrill.

With this project Prieto continues the tradition of drummers leading big bands, including Chick WebbGene KrupaBuddy Rich, and Mel Lewis, among others. He has had longstanding relationships with champions of the big band sound, including Arturo O’Farrill, Eddie Palmieri, and the late Bebo Valdés.


Mike Rodríguez / Trumpet
Nathan Eklund / Trumpet
Alex Sipiagin / Trumpet
Josh Deutsch / Trumpet

Román Filiú / Alto Sax
Michael Thomas / Alto Sax
Peter Apfelbaum / Tenor Sax
Joel Frahm / Tenor Sax
Chris Cheek / Bari Sax

Tim Albright / Trombone
Alan Ferber / Trombone
Jacob Garchik / Trombone
Jeff Nelson / Bass Trombone

Manuel Valera / Piano
Ricky Rodríguez / Bass
Roberto Quintero / Percussion

and Dafnis Prieto / Drums & Compositions




On Wednesday, May 17 and Thursday, May 18, 2017, the Dafnis Prieto Sí o Sí Quartet played The Jazz Gallery in New York City as a fundraiser for the Dafnis Prieto Big Band.

Giovanni Russonello of The New York Times included the concerts in his listings of noteworthy music events in New York:

DAFNIS PRIETO SÍ O SÍ QUARTET at the Jazz Gallery (May 17-18, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.). Mr. Prieto, a Cuban drummer and MacArthur fellow, assigns a spry rhythmic identity to every member of his Sí o Sí Quartet. His original compositions focus on melodies and phrases that repeat and amplify without adding any excess weight. The quartet — featuring Roman Filiu on alto saxophone, Manuel Valera on piano and Johannes Weidenmueller on bass — appears at the Jazz Gallery in a two-night run that Mr. Prieto is using to raise money for a coming big band album.
— The New York Times

Kevin Laskey interviewed Prieto for The Jazz Gallery blog about the experience of launching the Dafnis Prieto Big Band. Read highlights of that conversation HERE.

Prieto and producer Eric Oberstein hosted a VIP reception and concert on May 18. Here are a selection of photos from the event (Credit: Cameron Thompkins):


Special thanks to Rio Sakairi and the team at The Jazz Gallery for partnering with us on these concerts and for their support of the Dafnis Prieto Big Band project.