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

Paquito D'Rivera
Trio Corrente Paquito D'Rivera Horizonte 2015 4578.jpg
D'Rivera in 2015
Background information
Birth namePaquito Francisco D'Rivera
Born (1948-06-04) 4 June 1948 (age 71)
Havana, Cuba
GenresJazz, Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz, classical
Occupation(s)Musician, bandleader
InstrumentsClarinet, Saxophone
Years active1965–present
LabelsSunnyside, Paquito
Associated actsTrío Corrente, Caribbean Jazz Project


Early life and educationEdit

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 1981, 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 QuintetEdit

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 lifeEdit

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

Honors and awardsEdit

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 AwardsEdit


  • 2016 Paquito & Manzanero" (Sunnyside/Paquito Records)[17]
  • 2015 Aires Tropicales" (Sunnyside/Paquito Records)[18]
  • 2014 'Jazz Meets the Classics (Sunnyside/Paquito)
  • 2013 'Song for Maura (Sunnyside/Paquito)
  • 2012 'Dia y Medio a Day and a Half (OnMusic)
  • 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)
  • 2009 'Quartier Latin (lky)
  • 2009 'Jazz Clazz (Timba)
  • 2008 'Back in New York with Sebastian Schunke
  • 2007 'Funk Tango (Sunnyside) SSC4551
  • 2006 'Musica Para Los Amigos (Sony/BMG) 82876819032
  • 2005 'The Jazz Chamber Trio (Chesky) JD293
  • 2004 'Riberas (Epsa) 0500-02
  • 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
  • 2001 'Jazz Latino/A Collection of Latin Inspirations (Chesky) JD212
  • 2001 'Calle 54
  • 2001 'The Clarinetist (Universal) 160523
  • 2001 'The Clarinetist: Volume 1 (Peregrina) PM50221
  • 2000 'Live at the Blue Note (Half Note) 51620
  • 1999 'Tropicana Nights (Chesky) JD186
  • 1998 '100 Years of Latin Love Songs (Heads Up) INAK 30452
  • 1997 'Chamber Music from the South (Mix House) MH0002
  • 1997 'Live at MCG MCG1003 (Blue Jackel)
  • 1996 'Portraits of Cuba (Chesky) JD145
  • 1996 'Cuba Jazz (RMM/TropiJazz) RMD 82016
  • 1994 'A Night in Englewood (Messidor) 15829-2
  • 1993 '40 Years of Cuban Jam Session (Messidor) 15826-2
  • 1992 'Who's Smokin'?! (Candid) CCD79523
  • 1992 'La Habana-Rio Conexion (Messidor) 15820-2
  • 1991 'Reunion (Messidor) CD-15805-2 re-released 2004 Pimienta Records 245,360,610-2
  • 1991 'Havana Cafe (Chesky) JD60
  • 1990 'Live at Birdland, Claudio Roditi (Candid) 79515
  • 1989 'Tico! Tico! (Chesky) JD34
  • 1989 'Return to Ipanema (Town Crier) TCD516
  • 1988 'Celebration (CBS) C44077
  • 1987 'Manhattan Burn (CBS) FC40583
  • 1985 'Explosion (CBS) JZ20038
  • 1984 Why Not! (CBS) FC39584
  • 1983 Live at the Keystone Korner (CBS) FC38899
  • 1982 Mariel (CBS) FC38177
  • 1981 Blowin

Additional recordingsEdit

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Lalo Schifrin

As sideman, guest or within ensemble

  • 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)
  • 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 Tito Puente & Eddie Palmieri - Masterpiece/Obra Maestra (RMM Records)
  • 2001 Turtle Island String Quartet, Danzon (Koch) KIC-CD-7529
  • 2001 Mexico City Woodwind Quintet, Visiones Panamericanas Urtext Digital Classics JB CC051
  • 2002 Caribbean Jazz Project, The Gathering, (Concord) CCD 2125-2
  • 2004 Yo-Yo Ma – Obrigado Brazil – Live in Concert (Sony Classical) SK 90970
  • 2005 Hendrik Meurkens – Amazon River (Blue Toucan)
  • 2006 Caribbean Jazz Project, Mosaic (Concord) CCD 30033-2
  • 2006 Diego Urcola – Viva Camsois
  • 2007 Yo-Yo Ma – Appassionato, (Sony Classical) 88697-026682
  • 2008 Yo-Yo Ma – Songs of Joy & Peace, (Sony Classical) B001BN1V8U
  • 2017 Luz Pinos – Mariposa Azul (Independent) produced by Antonio Mazzei


  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.
  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. ^ Paquito D'Rivera website
  18. ^ Paquito D'Rivera website

External linksEdit