Paquito D’Rivera defies categorization. The winner of fourteen GRAMMY Awards, he is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. Born in Havana, Cuba, he performed at age 10 with the National Theater Orchestra, studied at the Havana Conservatory of Music and, at 17, became a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony. His numerous recordings include more than 30 solo albums. In 1988, he was a founding member of the United Nation Orchestra, a 15-piece ensemble organized by Dizzy Gillespie to showcase the fusion of Latin and Caribbean influences with jazz.
His numerous other honors include Doctorates Honoris Causa in Music (from the Berklee School of Music in Boston, the University on Pennsylvania), and the Jazz Journalist Association’s Clarinetist of the Year Award in both 2004 and 2006. In 2008, Mr. D’Rivera received the International Association for Jazz Education President’s Award and the Frankfurter Musikpreis in Germany, the Medal of Honor from the National Arts Club in 2009. In 2010, he was named a Nelson A Rockefeller Honoree and given the African-American Classical Music Award from Spelman College. He received his 10th and 11th GRAMMY this year for Panamericana Suite as Best Latin Album and Best Classical Contemporary Composition, adding to his previously awarded 8th and 9th GRAMMY for Riberas (Best Classical Recording) and Funk Tango (Best Latin Jazz Album 2008).
Mr. D’Rivera is the first artist to win Latin GRAMMYs in both Classical and Latin Jazz categories. The National Endowment for the Arts website affirms “he has become the consummate multinational ambassador, creating and promoting a cross-culture of music that moves effortlessly among jazz, Latin, and Mozart.”
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