Dafnis Prieto

“We played the first week of March at the Jazz Standard with a sextet and went into the studio on the Monday and Tuesday right after,” composer, bandleader, and master percussionist Dafnis Prieto recalls. “My plan was to stay a few days extra just to relax and enjoy a little bit of New York. But then everything started closing, so we escaped. We knew we had to leave and come back to Miami.”

Transparency is the album the multiple Grammy-winner finished recording a few days before the world changed, his third with his sextet. He then completed it “through Zoom. Basically, [co-producer] Eric [Oberstein] and I exchanged notes with the sound engineer Mike Marciano, and it came out really good.” Most critics have agreed, giving it a warm welcome since its release on Dafnison—his own label—on October 2. Praise has focused on its mix of urbane harmonic passages and unexpected rhythmic shifts that betray Prieto’s pan-Latin perspective, and often his Cuban roots. The nine-track album features a lineup of varied skills and experience, including alto and soprano saxophonist Román Filiú, trumpeter Alex Norris, tenor saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum (on melodica and percussion as well), pianist Alex Brown, and bassist Johannes Weidenmueller. As one might surmise, the title offers comment on current circumstances.

“Transparency means social sincerity, having empathy. It also means that you can see through whatever someone is trying to explain to you—looking at things realistically. It’s hard times now, so this is an invocation from an artistic and human point of view, to bring awareness that transparency is the most important way.”

This was Prieto’s first Before & After, conducted on Zoom. Minutes before logging on to start the event, I had been walking in a West New York

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