Francisco de Jesus Rivera Figueras, known to all as Paquito D’Rivera, is one of the most glorious of Cuban music.
His works as arranger and composer makes him one of the greatest and more complete artists that this island has given in recent years.
His love to jazz has made him become one of the most prestigious exponents of this genre worldwide. As he once stated, the main goal of his work is to “convert jazz into classical music”; another of Paquito’s preferred genres.
A little genius
Paquito D’Rivera was born in Marianao, in the province of Havana, Cuba, on June 4th, 1948. The music was in his genes, since his father Tito D’Rivera was a great saxophonist and bandleader.
At five years and taught by his father he knew how to play the saxophone. So soon it was sponsored by the prestigious company Selmer, engaged in the construction of musical instruments. A year later, Paquito was presented with the Cosmopolitan orchestra.
At age of seven he was considered a child prodigy. At ten, his instrument sounds at the National Theatre.
Knowing the alto sax thudded into his life. Quickly and helped by a book masterfully learned to play this instrument. In 1965, his virtuosity already gave to talk and he founded with another great music, Chucho Valdes, Irakere. This band proposed a novel fusion of rhythms, jazz, rock and traditional Cuban sounds. The national and international success was immediate and in 1979 earn up a Grammy.
During a tour by Europe in 1981, he decided to emigrate to the United States, where he has developed his artistic work. Already in that country, he founded the Paquito D’Rivera Big Band (jazz), the Paquito D’Rivera Quintet (chamber music), Triangle (calypso and salsa) and the Caribbean Jazz Project.
Paquito, tireless artist
Besides interpreter, this musician is a great composer. His talents have sprung pieces like Gran Danzón for Philharmonic Rotterdam, Panamericana Suite, premiered at the Lincoln Center in New York or Rivers, by the New Jersey Chamber Music Society.
As a jazz musician, the musician is the director of the International Jazz Festival of El Tambo in Uruguay and works regularly with the Alon Yavnai-Paquito D’Rivera Duet and Chamber Jazz Trio.
Paquito is credited with seven Grammy awards throughout his career and an honorary PhD from Berklee College of Music. His musical work has earned him the National Medal of Arts in the United States.
In addition, he has published two books: one of memoirs called Mi vida saxual and the novel Oh! La Habana. Which, together with its 60 discs (alone or in collaboration with other artists) has made his career very hard to match by any other musician in this genre. Here or there, Cuban musicians are proud of his size.
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