MADRID, Spain.- The Cuban clarinetist and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera is celebrating his 75th birthday on June 4. The musician, who had his first success at the age of ten after a performance at the National Theater in Cuba, since then has not stopped reaping recognition; ranging from several Grammy Awards to the recent Leonard Bernstein Award, Received last April.
Among the representative moments of the artist’s career is the creation, in 1967, of the group Irakere, with members of the Cuban Orchestra of Modern Music, founded by him years before with the pianist Chucho Valdés.
Together with Irakere Paquito D’Rivera he made international presentations, achieving great recognition at the Newport and Montreaux jazz festivals.
However, the Fidel Castro regime began to hinder him, alleging that his music had North American influences, so in 1981, during a trip to Spain with Irakere, he requested asylum at the United States Embassy of the European nation. .
In the northern country he quickly gained recognition and was associated with great musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, David Amram, Bruce Lundvall and the also Cuban Mario Bauzá, among others. A very short time after being there he recorded his first album with the collaboration of some of these artists. With Dizzy Gillespie he founded the band United Nations Orchestra in 1988. On New York stages he was widely applauded and hit the charts.
Paquito D’Rivera successfully ventured into bebop, a genre that had become fashionable a few decades earlier and that marked the transition between traditional jazz and modern jazz. His musical production includes more than 30 albums of jazz, bebop, Latin and classical music.