Paquito D'Rivera (June 4, 1948, Havana) is a Cuban-born, Grammy-winning jazz and classical saxophonist and clarinetist. Paquito was a child prodigy. He started learning music with his father at the age of 5, who was a well-known classical saxophonist and conductor in Cuba.
D'Rivera grew up as a prodigy in Cuba, playing both saxophone and clarinet and performing with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra at a young age.
When he was seven, became the youngest artist ever to endorse a musical instrument, when he signed on with the legendary company Selmer.
D'Rivera's expertise transcends musical genres as exemplified by his Grammy nominations and awards in both classical and jazz categories. D'Rivera also plays with 'crossover' artists such as the Ying Quartet, Turtle Island String Quartet, cellist Mark Summer, pianist Alon Yavnai, and Yo-Yo Ma. He has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall and played with the National Symphony Orchestra, London Royal Symphony, Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, Bronx Arts Ensemble, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, Costa Rican Symphony Orchestra, American Youth Philharmonic, and Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra. In the classical arena, he is well known for championing Latin jazz compositions, something he also partakes in.
D'Rivera is an Artist in Residence at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and artistic director of the Festival International de Jazz en el Tambo in Uruguay. He is also a member of the Alon Yavnai-Paquito D'Rivera Duet and the Jazz Chamber Trio.
He has also written a memoir entitled My Sax Life.
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 political dissidents in Cuba, including his own cousin.
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