Paquito D'Rivera

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Paquito D'Rivera
D'Rivera in 2015
D'Rivera in 2015
Background information
Birth namePaquito Francisco D'Rivera
Born (1948-06-04) 4 June 1948 (age 72)
Havana, Cuba
GenresJazz, Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz, Classical
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
InstrumentsClarinet, Saxophone
Years active1965–present
LabelsSunnyside, Paquito Records
Associated actsPaquito D'Rivera Quintet, Trío Corrente, The Blackout All-Stars, Caribbean Jazz Project

Paquito D'Rivera (born 4 June 1948) is a Cuban-American clarinetist, saxophonist and composer who plays and composes jazz and classical music.

Early life and education[edit]

Paquito Francisco D'Rivera was born in Havana, Cuba. His father played classical saxophone, entertained his son with Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman records, and he sold musical instruments. He took D'Rivera to clubs like the Tropicana (frequented by his musician friends and customers) and to concert bands and orchestras.[1]

At age five, D'Rivera began saxophone lessons by his father. In 1960 he attended the Havana Conservatory of Music, where he learned saxophone and clarinet and met Chucho Valdés.[2] In 1965, he was a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. He and Valdés founded Orchestra Cubana de Musica Moderna and then in 1973 the group Irakere, which fused jazz, rock, classical, and Cuban music.[3]


By 1980, D'Rivera had become dissatisfied with the constraints placed on his music in Cuba for many years. In an interview with ReasonTV, D'Rivera recalled that the Cuban communist government described jazz and rock and roll as "imperialist" music that was officially discouraged in the 1960s/70s, and that a meeting with Che Guevara sparked his desire to leave Cuba.[4] In early 1980, while on tour in Spain, he sought asylum with the American Embassy, leaving his wife and child behind, with a promise to bring them out of Cuba.

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 became US citizens. Maura had worked in the US in the fashion industry for many years, and Rosario had become a respected artist/entrepreneur. He was introduced to the jazz scene at some 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).[5]

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.[6]


D'Rivera 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 Rica National Symphony, American Youth Philharmonic, and Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra.[7][8]

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.[9]

D'Rivera was a judge for the 5th and 8th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists.[10]

Paquito D'Rivera with the Trio Corrente 2015 at the Horizonte world music festival at Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

Paquito D'Rivera Quintet[edit]

The band backing D'Rivera consists of Peruvian bassist Oscar Stagnaro, Argentinean trumpeter Diego Urcola, American drummer Mark Walker, and pianist Alex Brown.[11] As a whole they are named the "Paquito D'Rivera Quintet"[11] 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.[12]

Personal life[edit]

D'Rivera resides in North Bergen, New Jersey.[13]

Honors and awards[edit]

U.S. President George W. Bush stands with recipients of the 2005 National Medal of Arts on 9 November 2005, in the Oval Office.

Grammy Awards[edit]


As leader[edit]

  • Blowin (Columbia, 1981)
  • Mariel (Columbia, 1982)
  • Live at Keystone Korner (Columbia, 1983)
  • Why Not! (Columbia, 1984)
  • Explosion (Columbia, 1986)
  • A Tribute to Cal Tjader (Yemaya, 1986)
  • Manhattan Burn (Columbia, 1987)
  • Celebration (Columbia, 1988)
  • Tico! Tico! (Chesky, 1989)
  • Return to Ipanema (Town Crier, 1989)
  • Reunion (Messidor, 1991)
  • Havana Cafe (Chesky, 1992)
  • Who's Smoking?! (Candid, 1992)
  • La Habana-Rio-Conexion (Messidor, 1992)
  • Paquito D'Rivera Presents 40 Years of Cuban Jam Session (Messidor, 1993)
  • A Night in Englewood (Messidor, 1994)
  • Portraits of Cuba (Chesky, 1996)
  • Live at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (MCG, 1997)
  • Hay Solucion (BMG, 1998)
  • 100 Years of Latin Love Songs (Heads Up, 1998)
  • Tropicana Nights (Chesky, 1999)
  • Habanera (Enja, 2000)
  • The Clarinetist Volume One (Peregrina, 2001)
  • Brazilian Dreams (MCG, 2002)
  • Este Camino Largo (Yemaya, 2002)
  • The Lost Sessions (Yemaya, 2002)
  • Big Band Time (Pimienta, 2003)
  • The Jazz Chamber Trio (Chesky, 2005)
  • Benny Goodman Revisited (Connector, 2009)
  • Quartier Latin (LKY, 2009)
  • Panamericana Suite (MCG Jazz, 2010)
  • Tango Jazz (Paquito, 2010)
  • Song for Maura (Sunnyside/Paquito, 2013)
  • Jazz Meets the Classics (Paquito, 2014)
  • Aires Tropicales (Sunnyside/Paquito, 2015)[17]
  • Paquito & Manzanero (Sunnyside/Paquito, 2015)[17]

As sideman[edit]

With Diego Urcola Quartet

  • El Duelo (Sunnyside, 2020)

With David Amram

  • Havana/New York (Flying Fish, 1978)
  • Latin Jazz Celebration (Elektra Musician, 1983)

With Mario Bauza

  • Afro-Cuban Jazz (Caiman, 1986)
  • Tanga (Messidor, 1992)

With Caribbean Jazz Project

  • The Caribbean Jazz Project (Heads Up, 1995)
  • Island Stories (Heads Up, 1997)
  • The Gathering (Concord Picante, 2002)
  • Mosaic (Concord Picante, 2006)

With Gloria Estefan

  • Mi Tierra (Epic, 1993)
  • Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me (Epic, 1994)

With Carlos Franzetti

  • Prometheus (Audiophile, 1984)
  • New York Toccata (Verve, 1985)

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Conrad Herwig

  • Another Kind of Blue (Half Note, 2004)
  • Sketches of Spain y Mas (Half Note, 2006)

With Irakere

  • Irakere (Columbia, 1979)
  • Chekere Son (JVC, 1979)
  • 2 (Columbia, 1979)

With Yo-Yo Ma

  • Obrigado Brazil (Sony Classical, 2003)
  • Obrigado Brazil Live in Concert (Sony Classical, 2004)
  • Appassionato (Sony Classical, 2007)
  • Songs of Joy & Peace (Sony Classical, 2008)

With Andy Narell

  • The Passage (Heads Up, 2004)
  • University of Calypso (Heads Up, 2009)

With Daniel Ponce

  • New York Now! (Celluloid, 1983)
  • Arawe (Antilles, 1987)

With Claudio Roditi

  • Red on Red (CTI, 1984)
  • Milestones (Candid, 1992)

With Lalo Schifrin

With Bebo Valdes

  • Bebo Rides Again (Messidor, 1995)
  • El Arte Del Sabor (Lola, 2001)
  • Suite Cubana (Calle 54, 2009)

With others


  1. ^ Cohen, Anat (22 April 2015). "Jazz Departments: Jazz Is a Blessing: An Interview with Paquito D'Rivera". Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  2. ^ Collins, Catherine; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). Kernfeld, Barry (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 655. ISBN 1-56159-284-6.
  3. ^ Harris, Craig. "Paquito D'Rivera | Biography & History". Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Hollywood's Sick Love Affair with Che Guevara",; accessed 16 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Grammy Award winner Paquito D'Rivera endorses Scotch Plains saxophone manufacturer". Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  6. ^ D'Rivera criticizes Carlos Santana over Che Guevara T-shirt,; accessed 16 November 2014.
  7. ^ "Biography - Paquito D'Rivera". Paquito D'Rivera. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  8. ^ "YOA ORCHESTRA OF THE AMERICAS" (PDF). Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Paquito D'Rivera Biography". Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. Retrieved 13 November 2008.
  10. ^ "Past Judges". Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Paquito D'Rivera Quintet – The Band". Retrieved 24 January 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ Harrigan, Tom (31 October 2001). "Alejandro Sanz tops list of Latin Grammy Awards winners". The Daily Gazette. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  13. ^ Heinis, John (1 June 2012). "Paquito D'Rivera, other Latin legends see their stars unveiled in ceremony at Celia Cruz Plaza in Union City". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved 10 September 2015. Global icon Paquito D'Rivera, 63...moved to the United States from Cuba in 1980. He currently resides in North Bergen.
  14. ^ a b "Paquito D'Rivera | Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  15. ^ "2013 Best Latin Jazz Album". GRAMMY Awards.
  16. ^ "2014 Best Latin Jazz Album". 15th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Paquito & Manzanero - Paquito D'Rivera". Retrieved 27 January 2020.

External links[edit]