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Born in Havana, Cuba, Grammy Award-winner PAQUITO D'RIVERA was a child prodigy who was playing the clarinet and the saxophone and performing with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra at a very early age. He is a founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna and co-director of Irakere, whose explosive mixture of jazz, rock, classical, and traditional Cuban music had never been heard before. His numerous recordings have received rave reviews and hit the top of the jazz charts, With his ensembles - Triangulo (devoted exclusively to chamber music), the Paquito D'Rivera Big Band, and the Paquito D'Rivera Quintet - he tours throughout the world.
His appearances in classical venues include solo performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the Bronx Arts Ensemble, the Florida Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Lukes, the Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra, and the Simón Bolivar Symphonic Orchestra among others, and with the Cuban National Symphony he premiered several works by the foremost contemporary Cuban composer Leo Brouwer.
In 1991 D'Rivera received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Latin music, along with Dizzy Gillespie and Gato Barbieri. In 1997 he received his second Grammy Award with his record Portraits of Cuba and in the year 2000 he won a third Grammy for his Tropicana Nights alongside a nomination in the classical category for his Music of Two Worlds, with music from such composers as Schubert, Brahms, Guastavino, D'Rivera, and Villa-Lobos, and his latest Grammy was received for Paquito D'Rivera Quintet, Live at the Blue Note.
D'Rivera is becoming increasingly well-known for his compositions in addition to his extraordinary performing career. His music shows his versatility and wide-ranging influences, from Afro-Cuban ritual melodies to the music of the dance halls, through rhythms encountered in his wide-ranging travels to his origins as a classical performer.
Presently D'Rivera is Artist in Residence at NJPAC and Artistic Director for Jazz Programming of the New Jersey Chamber Music Society, sits on the Board of Directors of Chamber Music International, and on the Board of Chamber Music America. For the past six years. D'Rivera has been Artistic Director of the Festival International de Jazz en el Tambo, now in its sixth year in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
D'Rivera's My Saxual Life, published by the prestigious Spanish literary house Seix Barral with a prologue by the distinguished author Guillermo Cabrera Infante, has been received by the public and critics to high acclaim, and is presently being translated into English. His novel En Tus Brazos Morenos will soon follow.
Paquito's discography includes over 30 solo albums, which demonstrates his extraordinary abilities in bebop, classical, and Latin/Caribbean music.