cd review - Dafnis Prieto “Si o Si”

from time to time, i will be posting thoughts about particular recordings that have an impact on me. here is the first - from one of my favorite newer composers and drummers...

Dafnis Prieto - “Si o Si”

Dafnis Prieto, Peter Apfelbaum, Manuel Valera, Charles Flores

Si o Si is reactive to a point. The collective breath of the players seems to support the overall sound and structure of the pieces and the rhythms that glide underneath. Beautiful and articulate cymbal sounds…Dafnis has an obvious understanding of sound and displacement and transparency.

Dafnis’ compositions are meaningful and beautiful and are part of the overall journey in a way that I don’t hear often enough. Check out his earlier recordings to hear his progression as a writer and arranger.

To me, this group, at times, sounds like what a flock of birds maneuvering together would sound like if you could hear them.

Peter Apfelbaum is a brilliant musician. As a percussionist, his understanding of rhythm is comprehensive and physical. As a pianist, his ability to harmonize his rhythmic and melodic ideas is fascinating and moving. As a saxophonist, I hear the history of the instrument played with a unique sound, texture, design and flow. He seems to get stronger the deeper in he gets….it sounds like he is playing himself (and the listener) into a musical trance.

Manuel Valera sounds as though he is lightly pouncing on the piano the way a cat toys with something before devouring it completely…sometimes leaving scraps to make a point. (BTW I love the melodica work by both Manuel & Peter) He fits in really well with Dafnis’ rhythmic concept without crowding him. He is a brilliant soloist with unusual and surprising ideas.

Charles Flores holds the bottom together on bass. He has a beautiful sound in which you can hear a deep foundational understanding of time, rhythm, harmony and the culture of music. His playing further roots these compositions. He helps make it all dance and, to me, this is all dance music.

“Si o Si” is an excellent live recording. Producer (and great bassist/composer/arranger from Toronto), Roberto Occhipinti has a great track record producing Dafnis and I give a big nod to this production and to his obvious support of a great artist and to of one of the great improvisational band of our time. Thanks to you all. I look forward to hearing more music from all of these great artists.

i got an email today from someone who commented that they were "bored" with their playing lately. i believe this happens from time to time with musicians. we get so used to hearing our own style and licks and become familiar with them sometimes to a point of contempt or boredom. don't let it get you down...there are always plateaus and highs and lows in the journey. i think we have to be as creative as we can in finding wasy to be creative and inspired.

here are a few suggestions of ways to overcome that situation.
1. go listen to something you have never heard before
2. write a new piece of music
3. record yourself and figure out the things you like and dislike about your playing
4. practice something familiar in a way you have not tried before.
5. write out 5 strengths and 5 weaknesses in your playing.
6. watch your favorite musicians on youtube and find inspiration in that!
7. take a lesson with someone whose playing you really like.
8. go sit in with some other musicians.
9. set up a jam session or a string of them to have an opportunity to play.
10. take a lesson with someone who doesn't play your instrument.
11. go to a museum, art gallery, walk in nature and find some inspiration there.
12. play freely and see where your own music takes you when there are no restrictions.
13. find an artist you have always heard about but never heard and dig in!
14. make your own list of how to get out of your "rut".

these are a few suggestions that work for me and that have been shared by others. i know there are many more and you should share them with those around you. open up a dialogue with other musicians because this is a common situation we find ourselves in.

here are some musicians i recommend who are sometimes a little off the beaten path...i hope you find inspiration in their art...
charles lloyd, oumou sangare, ornette coleman, hariprasad chaurasia, ali fakar toure, lightning hopkins, john lee hooker, afel bocum, hermeto pascoal, carlos malta, guinga, alan lomax field recordings, www.folkstreams.com, jesse fuller, bert wilson, toumani diabate, sun ra, richard galliano, roland kirk, alash ensemble, konger-ol ondar, kasse diabate, fanfare ciocarlia, dhafer yousef, professor longhair, bettye lavette....to name a few. happy listening!