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Tribute to Paquito D’Rivera

- Classical and Cultural Connections

Fujitsu Jazz Festival
Tribute to Paquito D’Rivera
50 Years and 10 Nights of Show Business

Starring and Hosted by Paquito D’Rivera
Paquito D’Rivera Bio
Produced by Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta

Special Guests:

Bebo Valdes, Yo-Yo Ma, Michel Camilo, Candido, Cachao, Dave Samuels, Claudio Roditi, Pablo Ziegler, Manuel Amargo, Hector del Curto, Rosa Passos, Romero Lubambo,
Andy Narell, New York Voices, Jay Ashby, Claudio Ragazzi, Las Hermanas Marques


Youth Orchestra of the Americas,
Conducted by Tania Leon and Pablo Zinger
Brenda Feliciano (Soprano)

Paquito D’Rivera’s Band:
Paquito D’Rivera on Saxophone and Clarinet, Alon Yavnai on Piano,
Oscar Stagnaro on Bass, Mark Walker on Drums, Portinho on Drums, Ralph Irizarry on Timbales,
Edmar Castaneda on Harp, Pernell Saturnino on Percussion

Tango Dancers: Jorge Torres and Mariela Franganillo
Surprise Announcer: Bill Cosby

At Carnegie Hall

Raechel Alexander, Manager, Public Affairs

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 10, 2005

Paquito D’Rivera is one classy musician, with humor, charm, and tremendous talent. He was introduced by surprise announcer, Bill Cosby, as a man, who is honoring himself with shoes out of season (part white). During this long evening with no intermission, various ensembles and an orchestra of jazz, classical, Brazilian, Latin Mambo, authentic Cuban, and fusions of many styles were all onstage in sequential or repeat appearances in a signature Stratta/Philips production of mixed arrangements and rare partnering of renowned artists.

Night in Tunisia, arranged by Dizzy Gillespie, began with Dave Samuels on wild vibraphones, Paquito on sax, and his standard band on percussion, bass guitar, and bass. Paquito’s solo sax raced rhythmically as an extension of Paquito’s dynamite personality. There was a cacophony of Latin clave. A Lecuona piece, with Edmar Castaneda on a very unusual harp, took the audience by storm, after the sensual, steel drum introduction. There was an East Asian influence to this sound, with New Age elements, before the music returned to Mambo. Paquito’s saxophone conversed with his band and the young Castaneda’s harp.

Michel Camilo, from the Dominican Republic, performed Why Not?, a swing jazz piece on piano, red hot, and Paquito and Camilo played a sax/piano duet with powerful staccato and driven chords. Soon Claudio Roditi appeared on trumpet with Romero Lubambo on guitar and Michel Camilo still on piano. Roditi’s trumpet was vibrant and vivacious, and the notes danced to Carnegie Hall’s balcony. In one exceptional moment, Roditi and Paquito played the same or contrasting notes and tempos. This was a highly skilled, yet playful collaboration.

Chico, Chico, with Lubambo on one of two guitars, was quintessentially Brazilian Samba, with tambourine and sassy sax. Paquito often stopped to tell jokes to the audience, especially when the music stands and musicians were changing places onstage. Miami radio jokes were the rage, followed by New York Voices, a quartet with ethereal vocalizations that created scat and Samba, in concert with trumpet, trombone, and sax. Claudio Roditi played a potent trumpet/percussion riff, just before Paquito paid homage to his mother, seated in a side box over the stage.

A comedic duo was Las Hermanas Marques, two elderly sisters in black sequined dresses, who sing and play guitar. This Cuban pair was high humor, as they sang and shook maracas and wiggled through fast Spanish lyrics and old music. Another significant moment was the appearance of Argentinean, Pablo Ziegler’s band, with Hector del Curto on bandoneón, Pablo Aslan on bass, Claudio Ragazzi on guitar, and Pablo Ziegler on piano. Two pieces were performed, El Empedrado by Pablo Ziegler and the renowned Libertango by Astor Piazzolla. Jorge Torres, star of Forever Tango, and Mariela Franganillo, star of numerous Tango productions, danced left stage, with piercing eyes and elevated, swinging legs, in sensual and sensational Argentinean Tangos to Ziegler’s band. Ziegler was, as always, a commanding and charismatic musical presence onstage at Carnegie Hall. Paquito added a soaring solo in Libertango that highlighted this dance.

Youth Orchestra of the Americas, conducted by Tania Leon, fused Mozart and Harlem blues in quite professional fashion. About 38 students from the US, Central America, and South America were formally dressed in black and with poise and presence, and a piece composed by Tania Leon was played with Cha-Cha rhythm and charm. It is always nice to see young people onstage, and they looked proud and eager to join such a renowned roster of musical artists.

Yo-Yo Ma, the personable and resplendent cellist, was next in tonight’s long line of incredible talent, and he performed a Brahms Trio with Alon Yavnai on piano and Paquito on clarinet. A rare moment of serenity was allowed for this classical and classy trio, and Paquito could be seriously seen for his versatility and eclectic skills. Afro, written by Paquito, was somber and solemn, abstract and ambitious, with sudden shifts in tempo and tone. A new Samba scat followed, and Paquito’s clarinet joined the piano and rhythm guitar. Yo-Yo Ma joined one Samba, and the seasoned Rosa Passos sang and played guitar. Yo-Yo Ma was beaming to be included in this exquisite evening, and the audience beamed back.

Finally, Cachao appeared on bass, with his fellow octogenarians, Bebo Valdes on piano and Candido on bongos, joined by Ralph Irizarry on timbales. These renowned musicians made a rarified appearance, and, after being led onstage on the arms of the producer and younger musicians, they almost danced with their instruments, as the music commenced. Joy exuded in abundance. Cachao was a dynamo, fingering strings and slapping the bass, with Candido in percussive riffs, and Bebo swinging across his keyboard. Irizarry joined in jubilation on his timbales, and I do so hope to see this historical Cuban combo once again.

Brenda Feliciano, Paquito’s wife, sang soprano with the band, in a Gershwin Clarinet Suite, with Pablo Zinger conducting the Youth Orchestra. Ms. Feliciano has a lovely, undulating vocalization, and she gave a strong performance. Mr. Zinger led his orchestra with just the right timing and accompaniment. Kudos to Paquito D’Rivera and kudos to Stratta/Philips Productions.

Yo-Yo Ma, Alon Yavnai, Paquito D'Rivera at Carnegie Hall
Photo courtesy of Jerry Lacay

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at