Marsalis Berklee Jams: Dafnis Prieto Si o Si Quartet, October 14, 15

By
Nick Balkin
October 1, 2009
Peter Apfelbaum, Dafnis Prieto, Manuel Valera, and Charles Flores
Dafnis Prieto

The special guest for the latest Marsalis Berklee Jams is the Dafnis Prieto Si o Si Quartet, led by Cuban-born drummer, composer, and two-time Grammy nominee Prieto. The band's new album, Live at Jazz Standard, is set to be released on October 9, and on October 14 and 15 the Si o Si Quartet will be at Berklee's Cafe 939 to perform a set and follow with a jam session.

The concerts and jam sessions are all-ages and open to the public. The shows start at 8:00 p.m., and tickets are $10. For ticket and general information about Cafe 939, visit cafe939.com. Visit berklee.edu/events for more information about concerts at Berklee.

Since his arrival in New York from Cuba in 1999, Prieto has made a powerful impact on both the Latin and jazz music scenes. He has performed with Chucho Valdés, Michel Camilo, Don Byron, Steve Coleman, and Eddie Palmieri. He composed the title track for the 2008 Grammy-winning album Song for Chico by Arturo O'Farrill. Prieto is also a gifted educator and has been a member of NYU's music faculty since 2005.

Prieto has been hailed as "a composer of considerable depth [whose] music packs an emotional punch" by Down Beat and "a phenomenal drummer who is clearly pushing the Afro-Cuban jazz language into new territory" by Variety. He has the "ability to blend Latin traditions and post-bop with a progressive approach that is rich and distinctive," according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

The Dafnis Prieto Si o Si Quartet features virtuosic instrumentalists Peter Apfelbaum on saxophone and percussion, Manuel Varela on piano, and Yunior Terry on bass. The band's rapport is honed by years of playing together in many different contexts. Hearing the Dafnis Prieto Si o Si Quartet play live is a special experience—without safety net, unedited, raw, but nevertheless refined.

Branford Marsalis conceived of Marsalis Jams as an initiative to provide meaningful interaction between established musical ensembles and dedicated student musicians at the high school and college levels. These consist of mini-residencies that include classroom interaction and culminate in performance/jam sessions where the visiting band follows an opening set of its own music by inviting student musicians onstage to play.

Marsalis Jams provides a rare opportunity for students to play with working groups, and opens a window into the creative process for members of the audience. Since 2003, the program has been successfully presented in colleges and high schools in Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Texas.

Marsalis Berklee Jams is an innovative combination of concert performance, jam session, and classroom interaction. The program brings up-and-coming jazz groups to Boston for performances, jam sessions with Berklee students, master classes, and clinics. The series is produced in partnership with Marsalis Music, the Cambridge-based record label founded by Berklee alumnus Branford Marsalis.

This is the fourth Marsalis Berklee Jams event, following programs in 2008 with the Miguel Zenón Quartet and Sean Jones and earlier this year with Fly.