Paquito D’rivera

Cuban-born clarinet player and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera is based in New York. He has a balanced career as a Latin jazz musician with classical composer commissions and appearances with symphony orchestres. Classical New Jersey stated that D’Rivera’s “mastery of the instruments” and [his] expressive ability are unquestionable, “whether playing Bach, or post-bop.” Tito, his father was a conductor and classical saxophonist. D’Rivera learned music theory from him. His father began teaching him musical theory at the age of 5. He was playing enough to earn a living as a musician within a year. He was seven years old when he became the youngest endorser of a musical instrument (Selmer Saxophones). He performed with the National Theater Orchestra of Havana three years later. D’Rivera started out playing soprano saxophone. However, he switched to the alto after learning to play the Jimmy Dorsey Saxophone Technique: A School for Rhythmic Saxophoneplaying. D’Rivera started studying at the Havana Conservatory of Music to improve his musical and playing skills. He was a soloist with Cuba’s National Symphony Orchestra in 1965. After his time with the Cuban Army Band, Chu Chu Valdez, pianist, joined him to form the Orchestra Cubana de Musica Moderna. He was the band’s conductor for the next two years. He formed Irakere with eight other members of Orchestra Cubana de Musica Moderna in 1973. This group, which fuses jazz, rock, and traditional Cuban music with American records, was the first post-Castro Cuban band to sign with an American label. D’Rivera, who toured the globe with the group, became a highly-rated jazz band. The group was joined by American rock and jazz performers at Havana Jam 1979. It was recorded and released in the next year. D’Rivera fled Cuba in 1981 and moved to the United States. He was soon playing with American musicians like Mario Bauza, David Amram, Dizzy Gillespie and David Amram. Bauza claims that D’Rivera “is the only one I know playing Latin jazz. All others are playing AfroCuban jazz.” Mariel followed D’Rivera’s Blowin’ solo album in 1981. Mariel was released one year later. Time magazine stated that D’Rivera’s bopped up, romantic, salty, and sensuous jazz recognizes no political boundaries. It is rooted equally in the Latin hothouse rhythms of his home and the high-flying horns of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. D’Rivera was asked to join Gillespie’s 15-piece, all-star ensemble, the United Nations Orchestra, in 1988. He was also a soloist in the National Symphony Orchestra’s world premiere performance of Roger Kellaway’s David Street Blues at The John F. Kennedy Center that year. He was involved in a number of other projects. He began accepting commissions to write for orchestras and chamber groups. He composed the “New York Suite” for Gerald Danovich Saxophone Quartet in 1989. Five years later, he wrote “Aires Tropicales”, for the Aspen Wind Quintet. At least four quintets have performed the piece since then. D’Rivera’s 1997 album Portraits of Cuba won the Grammy Award for “Best Latin Jazz Performance”. D’Rivera met Mozart in 1999 when he worked with Germany’s Chamber Orchestra Werneck on a series called D’Rivera meets Mozart. D’Rivera served as artist-in residence for the New Jersey Performing Arts Commission, and was also the artistic director responsible for jazz programming for New Jersey Chamber Music Society. Seix Barral published his autobiography, My Saxual Live, and a novel, En Tus Brazos Morenos shortly after. In the spring 2000, Live at the Blue Note was released. Habanera followed in the early part of 2001. D’Rivera published the Clarinetist Vol. 1 was D’Rivera’s first album to solely rely on the woodwind strengths. Brazilian Dreams was released in 2002. It featured the New York Voices as well as Claudio Roditi, the trumpeter. It was followed in 2003 by Big Band Time, Music of Both Worlds and Tribute To Cal Tjader and Riberas. In 2005, it was followed up by Jazz Chamber Trio.

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