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BRONX SALON with PAQUITO D’RIVERA

Honoring the 70th year of a music legend, BAE celebrates the career of our friend and collaborator, Paquito D’Rivera. Come share in this special afternoon, as Paquito delights us with his musical talents and remembrances.

The BAE welcomes once again acclaimed virtuoso clarinet and sax player Paquito D’Rivera, a winner of fourteen GRAMMY Awards, celebrated for his artistry in Latin jazz and achievements as a classical composer. 

Born in Havana, Paquito performed at age 10 with the National Theater Orchestra, studied at the Havana Conservatory of Music and at 17 became a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony. As a founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna, he directed that group for two years, while he played clarinet and saxophone with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra.  Additionally, he was a founding member and co-director of the innovative ensemble Irakere.  With its explosive mixture of jazz, rock, classical and traditional Cuban music, Irakere toured extensively throughout America and Europe and won a GRAMMY in 1979.

In 1988, Paquito was a founding member of the United Nation Orchestra, a 15-piece ensemble organized by Dizzy Gillespie to showcase the fusion of Latin and Caribbean influences with jazz.  Paquito continues to appear as guest conductor. In 1991 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Carnegie Hall for his contributions to Latin music. Additionally, his highly acclaimed ensembles – the Chamber Jazz Ensemble,  Paquito D’Rivera Big Band and Paquito D’Rivera Quintet are in great demand worldwide.

While Paquito’s discography reflects a dedication and enthusiasm for jazz, bebop and Latin music, his contributions to classical music are notable, including solo performances with the London Philharmonic, London Symphony, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony and Baltimore Symphony.  He has also performed with the Puerto Rico Symphony, Costa Rica National Symphony, Simón Bolivar Orchestra, Bronx Arts Ensemble and St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra.  In his passion to bring Latin repertoire to greater prominence, he has successfully created, championed and promoted all types of classical compositions. Paquito’s three chamber compositions were recorded live in concert with distinguished cellist Yo-Yo Ma in September, 2003.  The chamber work Merengue, from that live concert at Zankel Hall, was released by Sony Records and garnered Paquito his 7th GRAMMY as Best Instrumental Composition in 2004.

Recent recognition of Paquito’s compositional skills came with the award of a 2007 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition, and 2007-2008 appointment as Composer-In-Residence at the Caramoor Center with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.  As part of the Caramoor Latin American music initiative, Sonidos Latinos, his new concerto for double bass and clarinet/saxophone, Conversations with Cachao, pays tribute to Cuba’s legendary bass player, Israel “Cachao” Lopez. Inspiration for another recent composition, The Cape Cod Files, comes from such disparate sources as Benny Goodman, Argentine milonga, improvisations on music of Ernesto Lecuona, and North American boogie-woogie.  His numerous commissions include compositions for Jazz at Lincoln Center, Library of Congress, National Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Ying String Quartet, International Double Reed Society, Syracuse University, Montreal’s Gerald Danovich Saxophone Quartet, and the Grant Park Music Festival.

Paquito is the author of two books, My Sax Life, and a novel, Oh, La Habana.  He is the recipient of the NEA Jazz Masters Award 2005 and the National Medal of the Arts 2005, as well as the Living Jazz Legend Award from Kennedy Center in 2007. Other honors include Doctorates Honoris Causa in Music (from the Berklee School of Music in Boston and the University of Pennsylvania), and the Jazz Journalist Association’s Clarinetist of the Year Award in both 2004 and 2006. In 2008, he received the International Association for Jazz Education President’s Award and the Frankfurter Musikpreis in Germany, and the Medal of Honor from the National Arts Club in 2009.  He received his 10th and 11th GRAMMY this year for Panamericana Suite as Best Latin Album and Best Classical Contemporary Composition, adding to his previous GRAMMY for Riberas (Best Classical Recording) and Funk Tango (Best Latin Jazz Album 2008).  Paquito is the first artist to win Latin GRAMMYs in both Classical and Latin Jazz categories -for Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat and Brazilian Dreams with New York Voices.  He has served as artistic director of jazz programming at the New Jersey Chamber Music Society and continues as Artistic Director of Festival Internacional de Jazz de Punta Del Este in Uruguay, and the DC Jazz Festival in Washington DC.

In 1999 the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares presented Paquito with a special award recognizing his contribution to the arts, his humane qualities, and his defense of rights and liberties of artists around the world.  The National Endowment for the Arts website affirms, “He has become the consummate multinational ambassador, creating and promoting a cross-culture of music that moves effortlessly among jazz, Latin and Mozart.”

For further information, please see paquitodrivera.com