A restless musical genius, Mr. DRivera formed and performed with various musical ensembles as a teenager and became one of the founding members of the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna, which he subsequently conducted for two years and was also founding member and co-director of the innovative musical group Irakere, whose explosive mixture of jazz, rock, classical and traditional Cuban music had never been heard before. The group toured extensively throughout America and Europe, won several Grammy nominations and a Grammy.
In 1996, he received a Grammy for his highly acclaimed
recording, Portraits of Cuba. A third Grammy came in 2000
for his Tropicana Nights, along with a nomination in the classical
category for his Music of Two Worlds, featuring compositions
by Schubert, Brahms, Guastavino, Villa Lobos, and by Mr. DRivera
himself. He won a fourth Grammy for his Quintets recording of Live
at the Blue Note. He was also nominated in the Classical Crossover
category for The Clarinetist Vol. I. In 2002, he won again
as a guest artist on the recording of the Bebo Valdes Trio. In May of
2003, he receives a Doctorate Honoris Causa in Music, for the Berklee
School of Music, adding this to his many numerous awards including a Lifetime
Achievement Award for his Contribution to Latin Music along with Dizzy
Gillespie and Gato
Barbieri. In addition to his awards and recognitions, including six
Grammys, Paquito makes history for being the frist artist to win Latin
Grammies in both Classical and Latin Jazz categories, for Stravinskys
Historia del Soldado and Bazilian Dreams with New York Voices, the other
historic recipient is Wynton Marsalis.
While Paquitos discography includes over
30 solo albums in Jazz, Bebop and Latin music, his contributions to classical
music are impressive. They include solo performances with the National
Symphony Orchestra, and with Brooklyn Philharmonic, the London Royal Symphony,
and the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also performed with the
Bronx Arts Ensemble, the St. Lukes Chamber Orchestra, the Puerto
Rico Symphony Orchestra, the Costa Rican National Symphony, and the Simón
Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, among others. Paquito also keeps busy by frequently
touring around the world with his ensembles: the Chamber Jazz Ensemble,
the Paquito DRivera Big Band and the Paquito DRivera Quintet.
In his quest to bring the Latin repertoire into the forefront of the classical
arena, Paquito has successfully created, championed and promoted all types
of classical compositions.
In addition to his extraordinary performing career as an instrumentalist, Paquito has rapidly gained a reputation as an accomplished composer. His works often reveals his versatility and widespread influences, which range from Afro-Cuban to the dance hall, to influences encountered in his many travels, and back to his classical origins.
In 2002, Paquito was commissioned by The National Symphony Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic, to write a concerto Gran Danzon (The Bel Air Concerto) for the acclaimed flutist Marina Piccinini under the baton of Maestro Leonard Slatkin at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
.. ..Best that night was Paquito DRiveras, Gran Danzón (The Bel Air Concerto) in its world premiere. A spiky and imaginatively colored piece of Latin American orchestral writing (Joe Banno, Washington Post, February 11, 2002). Gran Danzon dazzling work .reveals DRiveras sophistication as a composer.. (L. Peat ONeal Washington Post, June 3, 2002).
Other premieres include pieces for the Turtle Island String Quartet, The Ying String Quartet, and the International Double Reed Congress 30th Anniversary in Canada. In 2002, The Library of Congress also commissioned Paquito for a Jazz Fantasy for Piano and Violin. Jazz at Lincoln Center commissioned Paquitos Panamericana Suite for their As of Now series in 2000. It premiered and was recorded for the National Public Radio.
.The centerpiece of the concert was La Jicotea a newly commissioned work composed by DRivera for the Turtle Island String Quartet. Well-crafted the piece simmered with bits and pieces of Latin rhythms as the brief, but attractive, principal theme arched through flowing contrapuntal passages. As a showcase work, it will serve the TISQ well in future appearances. The most appealing segments of the program however were those in which DRivera performed with the quartet. the combination of clarinet and string quartet usually referred to as a Clarinet Quintet (Don Heckman Los Angeles Times, 2002).
In 1999, the Kammer Orchester Schloss Werneck presented a series titled Paquito & Mozart, featuring his chamber compositions, alongside those of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It culminated in Paquitos piece entitled Adagio, which features elements of Mozarts Clarinet Concerto.
.The orchestra as well as the soloist executed the work with perfect intonation and precise interpretation. At no time came the impression that two different musical worlds were colliding. The concert was an offering of excellence by virtue of the soloist and the orchestra, led by Ulf Klautsenitzer. With a focused tone and intonation, he effortlessly graced through the various registers unwavering. By: Peter Linhart Main Echo Aschaffenburg Kultur, Montag, June 1999.
His Rivers, a Poetic Suite, premiered in 1998 for the 25th anniversary Opening Concert of the New Jersey Chamber Music Society. In 1994, The Aspen Wind Quintet also commissioned and premiered his suite Aires Tropicales at New Yorks Frick Collection in 1994. Aires is now the mainstay of many other important wind ensembles such as the New York Wind Quintet and has been often recorded. He has also written and arranged other chamber works, which have also become the standard repertory of many international ensembles such as The Caracas Clarinet Quartet, Cuarteto Latinoamericano and Quinteto DElas. The Gerald Danovich Saxophone Quartet from Montreal, after performing several of Paquitos works, commissioned and then recorded his acclaimed New York Suite in 1989.
reed player Paquito D' Rivera has a foot in the classical world and a
foot in the jazz worldand each foot is atop its respective world.
With the Milwaukee Symphony Pops, he brought the two together in a thrilling
and astonishing survey of music by George Gershwin. He did not so much
bend Gershwin to his will as reconsider him in various lights. DRivera,
switching between clarinet and alto saxophone
substantial set from Porgy and Bess was a fantastical journey among idioms.
The pinnacle of it was the famous love duet. Bess, You Is My Woman
..DRivera spinning circles around Porgys part.
Note that as spectacularly virtuoso as DRivera was here, his part
fit the whole beautifully. Hes no show off; he balanced his
part with the singer and the orchestra to make a beautiful whole. He has
a concept that is bigger than his own voice, he hears the big picture
(Tom Strioni Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Music Critic, April 21, 2002).
The Second half became a Paquito DRivera show. Mr. DRivera, a gifted saxophonist and clarinetist has became the man to call if you want a concert-hall presentation of Pan-Latin music. All in rich Carnegie Hall-style arrangements . . . Mr. DRivera is a formidable musician, and in his clarinet playing, with lovely, clear low registers and never a squeaked high note. He was at his best (Ben Ratliff -New York Times, Saturday November 3, 2001).
Mr. DRivera is an Artist in Residence at
NJPAC and Artistic Director for jazz programming for the New Jersey Chamber
Music Society, Artist in Residence for the Moab Music Festival. Hes
also on the Board of Directors of Chamber Music International, and on
the Board of Chamber Music America, IAJE, and many other important arts
organizations. For several years, Mr. DRivera has been Artistic
Director of the famous world-class Festival International de Jazz en el
Tambo in Uruguay, now in its eighth season. Paquitos guests have
included such luminaries as McCoy Tyner, James Moody, and Chico Hamilton.
A gifted author, Mr. DRiveras book, My Sax Life was published in Spain by the prestigious literary house, Seix Barral and contains a prologue by Guillermo Cabrera Infante. It has been acclaimed by the public and critics alike and is currently being translated into English to be published by Northwestern University Press. His novel Oh, La Habana will soon follow.
In 1999, and in celebration of its 500 years history, 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.
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