Congratulations are in order for drummer Dafnis Prieto, the jazz community's latest winner of a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, the $500,000 so-called "genius grant." He and each of this year's 21 other winners from the arts and sciences will receive $100K a year for five years, no strings attached.
The MacArthur Foundation said the 37-year-old New York-based native of Cuba is "infusing Latin jazz with a bold new energy and sound."
It said his "dazzling technical abilities electrify audiences and (his) rhythmically adventurous compositions combine a range of musical vocabularies." It said he "melds modern jazz harmonies, Cuban clave rhythms, other Latin and African influences, and funk-inspired arrangements to create works of great stylistic diversity that evoke a broad spectrum of moods."
[Photo: Dafnis Prieto at the 2010 Tanglewood Jazz Festival].
Prior fellowship winners from the jazz world include a wide range of musicians... violinist Regina Carter, pianists Ran Blake and Cecil Taylor, drummer Max Roach, composer and bandleader George Russell, and saxophonists Ornette Coleman, Steve Lacy, Ken Vandermark, Miguel Zenon and John Zorn.