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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

PAQUITO D’RIVERA

By JUDSON KILPATRICK
Published June 4, 2006

Big Band Time
Pimienta/Timba/MusicHaus/Universal Music

This multi-Grammy-winning clarinetist/saxophonist is equally at home playing jazz, classical and traditional Cuban music. With pianist Chucho Valdés, he founded the legendary Orchestra Cubana de Musica Moderna and then Irakere, the first post-Castro Cuban band to sign with an American label. After moving to the U.S. in the ‘80s, D’Rivera became a charter member of Dizzy Gillespie’s 15-piece all-star group, the United Nations Orchestra; in other words, he’s no stranger to big band arrangements. For this album, he enlisted the WDR Big Band of Cologne, the group that famously backed Phil Collins on tour and served as Quincy Jones’ house band at the Montreux Jazz Festival. With eight brass, five woodwinds and an extra-tight rhythm section, plus special guests like D’Rivera’s longtime trumpeter Claudio Roditi, the WDR Big Band provides full-bodied support behind his wild clarinet flights and smooth alto sax. D’Rivera has the time of his life on these fresh renditions of his own originals and other choice tunes.