Since moving to New York in 1999 Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto has worked with Latin jazz heavyweights like Eddie Palmieri and Bebo Valdes as well as vanguard modernists like Henry Threadgill and Steve Coleman. It's easy to hear why: he's a prodigiously gifted technician who's distilled a world of rhythms into a signature style that throbs with Cuba's clave heartbeat. More frenetic than flashy, he's nearly always spooling out two or three distinct lines at a time, and as a composer Prieto covers just as much turf. Lately he's focused on leading his own bands. The recent Absolute Quintet (Zoho) features an oddly configured group--drums, saxophone, keyboards, cello, and violin--playing original work that ranges from postfusion liquidity to taut polyrhythmic rigor. Sometimes the electric tones of keyboardist Jason Lindner and the zigzagging unison arrangements have the hollow ring of fusion proper, but more often the group finds a fiery emotional core in Prieto's difficult compositions. For his local debut as a leader Prieto brings along saxophonist Yosvany Terry Cabrera and bassist Hans Glawischnig--who both appeared on his first album, About the Monks--as well as Peter Apfelbaum on tenor and Manuel Valera on piano. a 8 and 10 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707, $20 in advance, $25 at the door.