June 24, 2024

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Interview with Dafnis Prieto: Music is full of intellectual ideas, spiritual nuances, and emotional feelings: Live full concert video

Jazz interview with jazz bandleader, drummer Dafnis Prieto. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Dafnis Prieto: – I was born in Santa Clara, Cuba, and at the age of 6 or 7 I started been interest in music. I grew up in a musical neighborhood, I used to listening to musicians rehearsing in their houses, people playing rumbas in the corner, and there was always some popular bands playing in the radio. The first instrument I picked up was the guitar, then I started playing some bongos, and by the age of 10 I started in the music conservatory of Santa Clara to learn classical music, which I did for 8 years (4 years in my hometown, and 4 years at the National School of Music in Havana).

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up your musical instrument? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today?

DP: – During my classical music training at the age of 10, I started playing drum set by myself. Since then, I’ve been learning drums on my own. Of course, I got a lot of influences from many musicians who have inspired me and helped me along the way. I also had good teachers for classical percussion techniques. But, for drum set I learned by watching and listening, first to some Cuban drummers like Jose Luis Quintana “Changuito”, Miguel Angá Días, and others. And then drummers from the USA, like Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Buddy Rich, Jack DeJohnette, and many others.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

DP: – Over the years I’ve been able to keep or discard many ideas, and sounds. The result of that process has helped a lot to define the way I play now. Therefore, I now feel more closely to the sound and the ideas I want to play. As for developing an individual sound, I think we all have our own individual internal sound. The challenge is not to try to find it only outside, but looking inside. I’ve found that by singing what I want to play, I get to imagine a sound with an specific intension, and by doing so, I get closer to that sound that I want to play. There is also a great deal of cultural backgrounds, intuition, personality, and empirical choices within this process, which adds a lot to that sound.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

DP: – I like practicing any kind of rhythmic exercises, but I don’t really have a routine at this moment. But, when I get to practice I like to seat at the drums and just play what it comes to mind. I used to practice a lot of technique during my school years, and during those years I also created my own set of exercises specially those related to rhythmic independence. You can find many of them in my book “A World of Rhythmic Possibilities” published on Dafnison Music in 2016.

JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

DP: – Music is full of intellectual ideas, spiritual nuances, and emotional feelings. To me the balance between them exist when they can merge with one another without barriers, and the same goes for the music itself.

JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?

DP: – That’ a very difficult question to answer. I’ve collaborated with many people, from visual arts, to dancers, and musicians. But, I will choose to mention my recent collaboration with Eric Oberstein who is my partner in the production of this Big Band album. It is important for many reasons, but specially because the only way I could do something of this magnitude is with someone like Eric, for his dedication and professionalism.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

DP: – Well, there are different ways to look at one piece of music. I do think that young musicians have the opportunity to learn a lot from the so called “standards”, and I also think that they also should have the capability to write new music of their own. So, I don’t see the conflict.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

DP: – The meaning of life is whatever you might think it is. We all have different believe systems. Therefore we can interpret life and everything in it very differently from one another. The word “spirit” in this case could mean existence, or wholeness. It could mean the reason of existing in this life. To me spirituality is in its essences the state of been aware of who you are, your surroundings, your actions, your intentions, and everything that exist in you and around you. Is a state of balance with the world and within yourself.

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?

DP: – I don’t really have much expectations in the future. Not because I think there is a negative future, but because I don’t like big expectations. I used to be anxious sometimes because I was precisely thinking about the future. So, I decided to focus on what I wanted to do now, which will eventually get me to the future.

JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

DP: – I would educate more people to enjoy and appreciate music, not only experiencing music as an entertainment, but as a way to elevate the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and moral values in the people. I think we could all benefit from that in the world.

JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?

DP: – I have a few ideas in mind that could work, but they are still in their seeds. At this moment I’m just trying to take sometime away from writing big pieces, because I just finished writing for the Big Band. But after this, I will figure something out. Maybe more music for the Big Band will be exciting.

JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?

DP: – Yes, they are all music.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

DP: – I’ve always listened different kinds of music, Cuban music, European Classical music, Jazz, African, or from India. I like mixing up my listening. At this moment I’m not really concentrated on listening nothing specifically.

JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

DP: – If I had a time machine I will be going all over just for curiosity, from past to future. there so many places, historic events, artists. I imagine meeting someone like Bartok, Wagner, Chopin, but also Salvador Dalí, Monk, Coltrane. That has to be a very interesting journey, indeed.

JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

DP: – Yes, what do you find in music that you can’t find anywhere else?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. The great music like magic. If you’re getting into a new era, or if you just want to “be more of a music person,” you might enjoy a guided tour of jazz and blues.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Dafnis Prieto

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