Paquito D'Rivera defies categorization. The winner of nine GRAMMY Awards, he is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. He is also the first artist to win Latin GRAMMYs in both Classical and Latin Jazz categories-- for Stravinsky’s Historia del Soldado (L'Histoire du Soldat) and Brazilian Dreams with New York Voices. 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. D’Rivera continues to appear as guest conductor of that group which features such artists as James Moody, Slide Hampton, Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, Jon Faddis, Steve Turre, and others. A GRAMMY was awarded the United Nation Orchestra in 1991, the same year D’Rivera received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Carnegie Hall.
While Paquito D'Rivera's discography reflects a dedication and enthusiasm for Jazz, Bebop and Latin music, his contributions to classical music are impressive. They include solo performances with the London Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. In his passion to bring Latin repertoire to greater prominence, Mr. D'Rivera has composed three chamber works recorded live in concert with distinguished cellist Yo-Yo Ma in September 2003. The chamber work “Merengue,” from that live concert at Zankel Hall, was released by Sony Records and garnered Paquito his 7th GRAMMY as Best Instrumental Composition 2004.
In addition to his extraordinary performing career as an instrumentalist, Mr. D’Rivera has rapidly gained a reputation as an accomplished composer. Recent recognition of his compositional skills came with the award of a 2007 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition, and the 2007-2008 appointment as Composer-In-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. D’Rivera’s works often reveal his widespread and eclectic musical interests, which range from Afro-Cuban rhythms and melodies, including influences encountered in his many travels, and back to his classical origins. His numerous commissions include compositions for Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress, the National Symphony Orchestra and Rotterdam Philharmonic. He is the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award 2005 and the National Medal of the Arts 2005.
2008 awards include the International Association for Jazz Education President’s Award, the Frankfurter Musikpreis, and a Doctorate Honoris Causa in Music from the University of Pennsylvania. A tour in Japan in September 2008 includes Mr. D’Rivera conducting and performing Mozart concerti; the Concerto in A Major for Clarinet and Orchestra, and the Concerto in E flat Major for Piano and Orchestra.