The great Cuban saxophone master Paquito D’Rivera turns 75

A very happy birthday to Paquito D’Rivera, who turned 75 on June 4th. The four-time Grammy Award-winning saxophonist has made the Cuban exile community proud for decades. Paquito was already a major talent in communist Cuba, but when he broke free of the chains of the Castro tyranny, that’s when his talent really began to shine. As a free man, he was able to create and grow, becoming one of the top jazz musicians of the modern era.

Via CubaNet (my translation):

Cuban saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera turns 75

Cuban clarinetist and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera turned 75 on June 4th. The musician, who had his first success at the age of ten after a performance at the National Theater in Cuba, has since continued to receive recognition, ranging from several Grammy Awards to the recent Leonard Bernstein Award received last April.

Among the significant moments in the artist’s career is the creation of the group Irakere in 1967 with members of the Cuban Orchestra of Modern Music, which he founded years before with pianist Chucho Valdés.

Together with Irakere, Paquito D’Rivera performed internationally, achieving great recognition at the Newport and Montreaux jazz festivals.

However, the Castro regime began to hinder him, claiming his music had American influences. In 1981, during a trip to Spain with Irakere, he sought asylum at the Embassy of the United States.

In the U.S., he quickly gained recognition and associated with great musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, David Amram, Bruce Lundvall, and fellow Cuban Mario Bauzá, among others. Over a very short period of time there, he recorded his first album with the collaboration of some of these artists. He co-founded the United Nations Orchestra with Dizzy Gillespie in 1988, receiving great applause on New York’s stages and achieving success on the charts.

Paquito D’Rivera successfully ventured into bebop, a genre that had become popular a few decades earlier and marked the transition between traditional jazz and modern jazz. His musical production includes more than 30 albums of jazz, bebop, Latin music, and classical music.