Paquito D'Rivera

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Paquito D'Rivera
Trio Corrente Paquito D'Rivera Horizonte 2015 4578.jpg
D'Rivera in 2015
Background information
Birth name Paquito Francisco D'Rivera
Born (1948-06-04) 4 June 1948 (age 68)
Havana, Cuba
Genres Jazz, Latin Jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, bandleader
Instruments Saxophone, clarinet
Years active 1970s–present
Labels Sunnyside, Paquito
Associated acts Trío Corrente, Caribbean Jazz Project

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

Early 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 sold musical instruments. He took D'Rivera to clubs like the Tropicana, where his musician friends, and customers, hung out, and to concert bands and orchestras.[1]

At the age of five, D'Rivera was given 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 notes 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 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 became U.S. citizens. Maura had worked in the U.S. in the fashion industry for many years, and Rosario was now a respected artist/entrepreneur. He 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).[citation needed]

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.[5]

Performing and recording[edit]

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 Rican Symphony Orchestra, American Youth Philharmonic, and Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra.[citation needed]

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.[6]

D'Rivera was a judge for the 5th and 8th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists.[7]

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.[8] As a whole they are named the "Paquito D'Rivera Quintet"[8] 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.[9]

Personal life[edit]

D'Rivera lives in North Bergen, New Jersey.[10]

Grammy 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.



  • 1981 Blowin ' (CBS) FC37374
  • 1982 Mariel (CBS) FC38177
  • 1983 Live at the Keystone Korner (CBS) FC38899
  • 1984 Why Not! (CBS) FC39584
  • 1985 Explosion (CBS) JZ20038
  • 1987 Manhattan Burn (CBS) FC40583
  • 1988 Celebration (CBS) C44077
  • 1989 Tico Tico (Chesky) JD34
  • 1989 Return to Ipanema (Town Crier) TCD516

As sideman or guest

  • 1978–79 Irakere (CBS) LP35655
  • 1979 Havana Jam LP PC2/36053
  • 1981 God Rest Ye Merry Jazzmen (CBS) LP37551
  • 1983 The Young Lions (Elektra/Musician) 60196
  • 1989 If Only You Knew, Victor Mendoza (L&R)
  • 1989 Libre-Echange, Free Trade/Gerald Danovitch Saxophone Quartet (CBC JazzImage) 2-0118
  • 1989 Live at Royal Festival Hall, Dizzy Gillespie & The United Nation Orchestra (Enja) RZ 79658 (USA: Mesa/Blue Moon 79658)


  • 1990 Live at Birdland, Claudio Roditi (Candid) 79515
  • 1991 Reunion (Messidor) CD-15805-2 re-released 2004 Pimienta Records 245,360,610-2
  • 1991 Havana Cafe (Chesky) JD60
  • 1992 Who's Smokin'?! (Candid) CCD79523
  • 1992 La Habana-Rio Conexión (Messidor) 15820-2
  • 1993 40 Years of Cuban Jam Session (Messidor) 15826-2
  • 1994 A Night in Englewood (Messidor) 15829-2
  • 1996 Portraits of Cuba (Chesky) JD145
  • 1996 Cuba Jazz (RMM/TropiJazz) RMD 82016
  • 1997 Chamber Music from the South (Mix House) MH0002
  • 1997 Live at MCG MCG1003 (Blue Jackel)
  • 1998 100 Years of Latin Love Songs (Heads Up) INAK 30452
  • 1999 Tropicana Nights (Chesky) JD186

As sideman or guest

  • 1995 Caribbean Jazz Project (Heads Up) HUCD 3033/HUMC 3033
  • 1996 (Messidor)'s Finest Volume 1 (Messidor) 15841-2, compilation
  • 1996 First Take (Groovin' High), Ed Cherry (France)
  • 1997 Pixinguinha 100 Años, Alfredo da Rocha Vianna Filho
  • 1997 Caribbean Jazz Project Island Stories (Heads Up) HUCD3039
  • 1997 Baksa for Winds, Bronx Arts Ensemble, (Newport Classic) NPD85624
  • 1998 Music from Two Worlds (Acqua) aq 012
  • 1999 Paquito D'Rivera – Habanera Absolute Ensemble/Kristjan Jarvi (Enja) ENJ-9395 2
  • 1999 Cubarama (Termidor Musikverlag) compilation


  • 2000 Live at the Blue Note (Half Note) 51620
  • 2001 Jazz Latino/A Collection of Latin Inspirations (Chesky) JD212
  • 2001 Turtle Island String Quartet, Danzon (Koch) KIC-CD-7529
  • 2001 Mexico City Woodwind Quintet, Visiones Panamericanas Urtext Digital Classics JB CC051
  • 2001 Calle 54
  • 2001 The Clarinetist (Universal) 160523
  • 2001 The Clarinetist: Volume 1 (Peregrina) PM50221
  • 2002 Big Band Time (Termidor Musikverlag & Timba) 59773-2
  • 2002 Historia Del Soldado DD&R CB R014
  • 2002 Brazilian Dreams (MCG) 1010
  • 2002 The Best of Paquito D'Rivera (Legacy/Sony) SICP 5044
  • 2002 The Commission Project (Sons of Sound Recorded Music) SSPCD009
  • 2002 Caribbean Jazz Project, The Gathering, (Concord) CCD 2125-2
  • 2004 Riberas (Epsa) 0500-02
  • 2004 Yo-Yo Ma – Obrigado Brazil – Live in Concert (Sony Classical) SK 90970
  • 2005 The Jazz Chamber Trio (Chesky) JD293
  • 2005 Amazon River, Hendrik Meurkens (Blue Toucan)
  • 2006 Musica Para Los Amigos (Sony/BMG) 82876819032
  • 2006 Caribbean Jazz Project, Mosaic (Concord) CCD 30033-2
  • 2006 Diego Urcola – Viva Camsois
  • 2007 Funk Tango (Sunnyside) SSC4551
  • 2007 Yo-Yo Ma – Appassionato, (Sony Classical) 88697-026682
  • 2008 Yo-Yo Ma – Songs of Joy & Peace, (Sony Classical) B001BN1V8U
  • 2008 Back in New York with Sebastian Schunke
  • 2009 Quartier Latin (lky)
  • 2009 Jazz Clazz (Timba)


  • 2010 Panamericana Suite, (MCG Jazz)
  • 2010 Tango Jazz, Live from Jazz at Lincoln Center (Paquito/Sunnyside)
  • 2010 Paquito D'Rivera presents Alex Brown
  • 2010 Terra Incognita, Imani Winds (E1 Music)
  • 2012 Dia Y Medio a Day and a Half (OnMusic)
  • 2013 Song for Maura (Sunnyside/Paquito)
  • 2014 Jazz Meets the Classics (Sunnyside/Paquito)

As sideman[edit]

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Lalo Schifrin


  1. ^ "Jazz Departments: Jazz Is a Blessing: An Interview with Paquito D'Rivera - By Anat Cohen — Jazz Articles". 22 April 2015. 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 | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 September 2016. 
  4. ^ "Hollywood's Sick Love Affair with Che Guevara",; accessed November 16, 2014.
  5. ^ D'Rivera criticizes Carlos Santana over Che Guevara T-shirt,; accessed November 16, 2014.
  6. ^ "Paquito D'Rivera Biography". Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. Retrieved 2008-11-13. 
  7. ^ Independent Music Awards – Past Judges,; accessed November 16, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Paquito D'Rivera Quintet – The Band". Retrieved January 24, 2013. 
  9. ^ Harrigan, Tom (October 31, 2001). "Alejandro Sanz tops list of Latin Grammy Awards winners". The Daily Gazette. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  10. ^ Heinis, John. "Paquito D'Rivera, other Latin legends see their stars unveiled in ceremony at Celia Cruz Plaza in Union City", The Jersey Journal, June 1, 2012. Accessed September 10, 2015. "Global icon Paquito D'Rivera, 63, a seven-time Grammy-award winner, received a star yesterday. The reed man, known mostly for his high-flying Latin jazz music, moved to the United States from Cuba in 1980. He currently resides in North Bergen."
  11. ^ a b "Paquito D'Rivera | Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 September 2016. 
  12. ^ "2013 Best Latin Jazz Album". GRAMMY Awards. 
  13. ^ "2014 Best Latin Jazz Album". 15th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards. Retrieved 20 December 2014. 

External links[edit]