Paquito D'Rivera (born June 4, 1948 - Cuba) is a alto saxophonist, clarinetist and soprano saxophonist. The winner of fourteen GRAMMY Awards, he is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer.
By 1980, D'Rivera had been dissatisfied with the constraints placed on his music in Cuba for many years. In an interview with ReasonTV, D'Rivera notes 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.I n early 1981, upon his arrival in the United States, D'Rivera was introduced to the jazz scene at some of the most 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).
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.
D'Rivera also plays with "crossover" artists such as the Ying Quartet, Turtle Island String Quartet, cellist Mark Summer, pianist Alon Yavnai, andYo-Yo Ma. He 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 Rican Symphony Orchestra, American Youth Philharmonic, and Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra.
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.
D'Rivera was a judge for the 5th and 8th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists.