When Dafnis Prieto immigrated to New York City from Cuba in 1999, the young jazz drummer earned an almost instantaneous reputation as one of the city’s best new instrumentalists. He played with Eddie Palmieri, Steve Coleman, and Andrew Hill, credentials that led The New York Times to crown him “a major force” in 2002. Subsequent albums under his own name cemented that reputation by pairing his energy and an intricate sense of rhythm with exploratory harmonies and sophisticated structures; in 2011, his artistry was rewarded with a MacArthur Fellowship. No project has made Prieto’s boundless ambition or vision as clear as 2018’s Back to the Sunset, his debut with his seventeen-member, star-studded Dafnis Prieto Big Band. Produced by Duke Performances’ Eric Oberstein, it includes ebullient Afro-Cuban compositions and mesmerizing ballads, reimagining what a big band can be. In March 2018, Duke Performances brought some of the most musically fabled regions of the world to Durham with Black Atlantic, a weeklong festival in downtown Durham celebrating the music of Africa and the African diaspora. Musicians from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Venezuela, Mali, the Garifuna people of Honduras, and Spain took the stage at Motorco and the Carolina Theatre. “These six concerts,” wrote Duke professor Laurent Dubois, “remind us of common routes, of the ways Black Atlantic music has helped turn exile and exclusion into grounding and connection.” This season, Black Atlantic returns to Motorco (and adds one concert at Baldwin Auditorium) in search of more cultural connections and imaginative hybrids, with artists from South Africa, Congo, Uganda, Mali/Ivory Coast/France, Mauritania, Cuba, Niger, New York, and Brazil.