Submitted by ub on Sun, 10/30/2011 - 12:52


The concert featured Cuban born and Grammy winner Paquito D'Rivera, who began his career as a child saxophone prodigy. A founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna, he directed the group for two years, while at the same time playing both clarinet and saxophone with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra.

Paquito was also a founding member and co-director of the innovative musical ensemble Irakere, which toured extensively and won a GRAMMY Award in 1979. His first GRAMMY as a solo artist came in 1996 for Portraits of Cuba. Funk Tango, the first release on his new Paquito Records label, won his ninth GRAMMY for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2007.

Maestro D'Rivera is a recipient of the 2005 National Medal for the Arts and was named one of the 2005 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters. In 2007 he was honored with the Living Jazz Legend Award in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He has gained a reputation as a dynamic composer, winning a 2007 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition and several classical composing commissions. While his discography includes over 30 solo albums in Latin, Bebop and Jazz music, he has also performed solos with countless symphony orchestras. A gifted author, he wrote My Sax Life and the novel Oh, La Habana. D'Rivera’s latest releases are 2010’s Panamericana Suite and Tango Jazz.

Paquito also played with The Mambo Legends Orchestra, who are comprised of former members of the Tito Puente Orchestra, played the music they’ve been masters of performing for over 30 years. Co-led by famed bongocero Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez and renowned reedman Mitch Frohman, and musically directed by conguero and arranger José Madera, each of whom spent over 25 years working with Puente, the orchestra has successfully kept the sound of The Big 3 (Machito, Tito Rodriguez and Tito Puente) alive and well, while setting a new standard for the genre. Johnny “Dandy” Rodriguez, son of respected Latin musician Johnny Rodriguez, began performing as a teenager with Tito Rodriguez and played with Ray Barretto and Típica ‘73 in the ‘70s before beginning his 27-year stint playing bongos in Puente’s band. Mitch Frohman, sax/flute soloist with Puente for 25 years, has also played and recorded with numerous Latin artists and tours with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.

Musical director José Madera, born in NYC to José “Pin” Madera, the first arranger for the Machito Orchestra, started playing timbales with Machito as a teenager and was Tito Puente’s conguero for 30 years and musical director for ten years.

As I listened con mucho cuidao, I heard the two voices behind me. They were two ladies, who recently arrived from Cuba and traveled in a snow storm from Manhattan to listen to Maestro D'Rivera. Now that is what I call loyal fans. It was truly my pleasure to meet Gabi and her mother at this brilliant concert last night. Mucho gusto, a las dos damas de la musica Cubana!