New York Suite (1980), Paquito D'Rivera

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New York Suite (1980), Paquito D'Rivera
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Review

Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY)
Monday, December 5, 1994
Amherst Saxophone Quartet manages to soften the impact
Thomas Putnam

Consider the impact of a saxophone quartet, which makes a forceful sound that owes much to the brassy and reedy tone of the instruments. That impact owes something, too, to the character of the saxophone, which is not by nature an intimate conversationalist.

Played with the skill of the Amherst Saxophone Quartet, music for the ensemble can knock you on the head and leave you smiling. The delicacies of this performing group are therefore much appreciated, as a kind of other side to the coin.

Works by Elliot A. Del Borgo and Tayloe Harding on the first part of the Amherst Saxophone Quartet's program Sunday evening were fine examples of saxophone quartet writing that exploits impact. (The program will be repeated this evening at 8 in Slee Concert Hall on the University at Buffalo North Campus, and again Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at the Calumet Arts Cafe.)

Del Borgo's Quartet for Saxophones (1987) recites triplet-driven jazz figures, and completes the exercise in good breeding with a fugal obligation. A slow movement is wonderfully morose, and would satisfy a Russian. The finale is the boldest, outdoor brass sounds tamed. It was a vigorous hit. What also made Del Borgo's piece attractive — what made it the complete coin — was the purified writing for soprano and alto saxophones.

Harding's Quartet for Saxophones (1990) has a more urban-American sound, so there was the old West Side zip, and there was a kind of "down" sound (not really blues) of ponderous and abrasive harmonies. Harding shows signs of a minimalist leaning, which causes him to substitute for fascinating development a deadly repetition. But he whips up from this formula a genuine momentum that perhaps makes the thing convincing.

Paquito D'Rivera's "New York Suite" (1980) in four movements essentially is a jazz score, complete (or should that be incomplete?) with space for improvisations. D'Rivera drills home motivic points, and he must have heard somewhere that a classicist recycles.

The thoroughgoing pleasure was Jean Francaix's "Petit Quatuor pour Saxophones." Here is inventive percolation, insouciance, light brilliance. The French saxophone is a wonderful combination of words. This was a splendid performance by the Amherst, whose players are Salvatore Andolina, Russ Carere, Stephen Rosenthal, and Harry Fackelman.

Quartet for Saxophones (1987), Elliot A. Del Borgo
Quartet for Saxophones (1990), Tayloe Harding
New York Suite (1980), Paquito D'Rivera
Petit Quatuor pour Saxophones, Jean Francaix
Amherst Saxophone Quartet manages to soften the impact

Composer Biography

1948 —

Grammy Award winner PAQUITO D'RIVERA was born in Havana Cuba. By 1988, Mr. D'Rivera had become a founding member of and soloist with Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra, a IS-piece ensemble organized to showcase the fusion of Latin and Caribbean influences into the jazz genre. Since his defection from Cuba, Paquito D'Rivera has taken command of his role as a cross-cultural ambassador, creating and promoting a multinational style that moves from Bebop to Latin to Mozart. D'Rivera is becoming increasingly well-known for his compositions in addition to his extraordinary performing career.

1948 —

Paquito D'Rivera was born in Havana Cuba. He was a child prodigy, playing the clarinet and the saxophone and performing with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra at a very early age. Later he founded the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna and Irakere whose explosive mixture of Jazz, Rock, Classical and traditional Cuban music had never been heard before.
In 1981, Mr. D'Rivera sought asylum in the United States, leaving his homeland forever. Dizzy Gillespie, David Amram, Mario Bauza, Bruce Lundvall and other musicians came to his aid with engagements and referrals. By 1988 Mr. D'Rivera had become a founding member of and soloist with Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra, a 15-piece ensemble organized to showcase the fusion of Latin and Caribbean influences into the jazz genre.
With his ensembles, Triangulo, devoted exclusively to chamber music, the Paquito D'Rivera Big Band and the Paquito D'Rivera Quintet he tours throughout the world. His appearances in classical venues include solo performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Lukes, the Bronx Arts Ensemble, the Florida Philharmonic, the Costa Rican National Symphony Orchestra and the Simón Bolivar Symphonic Orchestra among others, and with the Cuban National Symphony he premiered several works by the foremost contemporary Cuban composer Leo Brower. In 1991 Mr. D'Rivera received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Latin music, along with Dizzy Gillespie and Gato Barbieri, and in 1997 became recipient of his second Grammy Award with his record, the highly acclaimed, "Portraits of Cuba."
Since his defection from Cuba, Paquito D'Rivera has taken command of his role as a cross-cultural ambassador, creating and promoting a multinational style that moves from Bebop to Latin to Mozart. Throughout his career in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America D'Rivera's works have received rave reviews from the critics.
D'Rivera is becoming increasingly well-known for his compositions in addition to his extraordinary performing career. His music shows his versatility and wide-ranging influences, from Afro-Cuban ritual melodies to the music of the dance halls, through rhythms encountered in his wide-ranging travels to his origins as a "classical" performer. He is currently writing a flute concerto that will be performed by the National Symphony and a string quartet.
In this quest to bring the Latin-American repertoire into the forefront of the so-called "classical arena" Paquito D'Rivera has created, favored and promoted with success all types of musical classical compositions with elements from South of the Border. In 1999, the Chamber Orchestra Werneck (based in Germany) presented a series titled "D'Rivera Meets Mozart," featuring Paquito's chamber compositions, alongside those of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, culminating in a piece written by Paquito featuring the 2nd movement of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, entitled "Adagio"
The Gerald Danovich Saxophone Quartet from Montreal, after performing several of Paquito's works, decided to commission and then recorded his acclaimed "New York Suite" in 1989. The Aspen Wind Quintet also commissioned and premiered his suite "Aires Tropicales," at the Frick Collection, in New York City, in April 1994, and it is already part of the repertoire of many other important wind quintets including the renowned New York Wind Quintet, and has been recorded by at least four quintets.
Paquito continues to receive commissions and also wrote and arranged other chamber pieces which are part of the repertory of ensembles such as The Caracas Clarinet Quartet, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Quinteto D'Elas, and many other chamber ensembles throughout the world. His "Rivers", a Poetic suite was premiered Sept. 25th, 1998 for the 25th anniversary Opening Concert of the New Jersey Chamber Music Society and was received so well that he was invited to present it at the NJPAC, in an expanded orchestrated version (also by Mr. D'Rivera).
Presently Mr. D'Rivera is Artist in Residence at NJPAC and Artistic Director for Jazz Programing of the New Jersey Chamber Music Society, sits on the Board of Directors of Chamber Music International, and has just been nominated to sit on the board of Chamber Music America. For the last five years Mr. D'Rivera has been Artistic Director of the famous world-class "Festival International de jazz en el Tambo" now in it's fifth year in Punta del Este, Uruguay. This past year Mr. D'Rivera's guests included such luminaries as McCoy Tyner, James Moody, and Chico Hamilton.
For the year 2000, Jazz at Lincoln Center commissioned Paquito to write a piece for their "As of Now" series, premiered, recorded and broadcast on National Public Radio.
A gifted writer, Mr.D'Rivera's "My Saxual Life" is being published by the prestigious Spanish literary house Seix Barral with a prologue by the distinguished author Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and his novel "En Tus Brazos Morenos" will soon follow. Mr. D'Rivera was guest artist at the White House on June 2nd 1999, and shortly after that (June 8th) flew to Spain to receive a special honorary award by Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, (for its 500 year celebration ) recognizing his contribution to the arts, his humane qualities, and his defense for the rights and liberty of artists. This honor was presented on Tuesday June 8th, 1999. And on July 14th, 1999 Paquito performed at the Kennedy Center as featured guest artist in the historical "Americanos" concert, hosted by James Olmos, broadcast by PBS all over the country.
Paquito's discography includes over 24 solo albums, which demonstrates his xtraordinary abilities in Bebop, classical and Latin/Caribbean music. His numerous recordings have received rave reviews and hit the top of the Jazz charts.