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Paquito D'Rivera

Paquito D'Rivera

Early lifeBorn in Havana, D'Rivera grew up in Cuba. He started learning music at the age of five with his father Tito Rivera, a well-known classical saxophonist and conductor in Cuba. Paquito himself learned both the saxophone and clarinet and performed with the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba at a young age.When he was seven, he became the youngest artist ever to endorse a musical instrument, when he signed on with the music company Selmer.CareerBy 1980, D'Rivera had been dissatisfied with the constraints placed on his music in Cuba for many years. In an interview with ReasonTV, D'Rivera notes that the Cuban communist government described jazz and rock and roll as "imperialist" music that was officially discouraged in the 1960s and '70s, and that a meeting with Che Guevara sparked his desire to leave Cuba. In early 1981, while on tour in Spain, he sought asylum with the American Embassy, and left his homeland, wife and child behind in search of a better life with a promise to get them out.Upon his arrival in the United States, D'Rivera found great support for him and his family. His mother Maura and his sister Rosario had left Cuba in 1968 and become US citizens. Maura had worked in the US in the fashion industry for many years, and Rosario was now a respected artist/entrepreneur [1\]. Many notables reached out to help Paquito, including Dizzy Gillespie, David Amram, Mario Bauzá and Bruce Lundvall, who gave him his first solo recording date. D'Rivera quickly earned respect among American jazz musicians and was introduced to the jazz scene at some of the most prestigious clubs and concert halls in New York. He became something of a phenomenon after the release of his first two solo albums, Paquito Blowin (June 1981) and Mariel (July 1982).Throughout his career in the United States, D'Rivera's albums have received reviews from critics and have hit the top of the jazz charts. His albums have shown a progression that demonstrates his extraordinary abilities in bebop, classical and Latin/Caribbean music. D'Rivera's expertise transcends musical genres as he is the only artist to ever have won Grammy Awards in both Classical and Latin Jazz categories.D'Rivera also plays with "crossover" artists such as the Ying Quartet, Turtle Island String Quartet, cellist Mark Summer, pianist Alon Yavnai, and Yo-Yo Ma. He has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall and played with the National Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, Bronx Arts Ensemble, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, YOA Orchestra of the Americas, Costa Rican Symphony Orchestra, American Youth Philharmonic, and Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra.D'Rivera is an Artist in Residence at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and artistic director of the Festival International de Jazz en el Tambo in Uruguay. He is also a member of the Alon Yavnai-Paquito D'Rivera Duet and the Jazz Chamber Trio.He has also written a memoir entitled My Sax Life.In 2005, D'Rivera wrote a letter criticizing musician Carlos Santana for his decision to wear a T-shirt with the image of Che Guevara on it to the 2005 Academy Awards, citing Guevara's role in the execution of counter-revolutionaries in Cuba, including his own cousin.D'Rivera was a judge for the 5th and 8th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists.Paquito D'Rivera QuintetThe band backing D'Rivera consists of Peruvian bassist Oscar Stagnaro, Argentinean trumpeter Diego Urcola, American drummer Mark Walker, and pianist Alex Brown. As a whole they are named the "Paquito D'Rivera Quintet" and under this name they were awarded the Latin Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album for the album Live at the Blue Note in 2001.Personal lifeD'Rivera lives in North Bergen, New Jersey.Awards and nominations1979 "Irakere" Best Latin Recording – 22nd Annual Grammy Awards1996 Portraits of Cuba won Best Latin Jazz Performance – 39th Annual Grammy Awards2000 "Music of Two Worlds" nominated Best Classical Album – 42nd Annual Grammy Awards2000 Tropicana Nights won Best Latin Jazz Album – 1st Annual Latin Grammy Awards2001 Live at the Blue Note – won Best Latin Jazz Album – 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards2001 "The Clarinetist Vol. 1" nominated Best Classical Crossover Album – 43rd Annual Grammy Awards2003 Brazilian Dreams won Best Latin Jazz Album – 4th Annual Latin Grammy Awards2003 "Historia del Soldado" won Best Classical Album – 4th Annual Latin Grammy Awards2003 Doctorate Honoris Causa in Music, Berklee College of Music2004 "Merengue" won Best Instrumental Composition – 47th Annual Grammy Awards2004 Jazz Journalists Association, Clarinet of the Year Award2005 National Medal of Arts recipient2005 National Endowment for the Arts – Jazz Masters recipient2008 Funk Tango won Best Latin Jazz Album – 50th Annual Grammy Awards2011 Panamericana Suite won Best Latin Jazz Album – 12th Annual Latin Grammy Awards2012 Honorary Doctoral Degree from the State University of New York at Old Westbury

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