A captivating memoir from one of jazz's most beloved practitioners, fourteen-time Grammy winner Paquito D’Rivera’s Letters to Yeyito is a fascinating tour of a life lived in music, and a useful guidebook for aspiring artists everywhere.
Years after receiving a fan letter with no return address, Latin jazz legend Paquito D’Rivera began to write Letters to Yeyito in the hope of reaching its author, a would-be musician. In the course of advising his Cuban compatriot on love, life, and musicianship, D’Rivera recounts his own six-decade-long journey in the arts.
After persevering under Castro’s brand of socialism for years, D’Rivera defected from Cuba and left his beloved Havana for that other great city: New York. From there, the saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer launched a dazzling—and still very active—career that has included fourteen Grammys, world tours, and extensive collaboration with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Yo-Yo Ma, and other music legends who make cameos in these pages. Full of humor, entertaining anecdotes, expert advice, and the musician’s characteristic exuberance, D’Rivera’s story is one of life on the move and finding a home in music.
Praise for Paquito D'Rivera
“He has become the consummate multinational ambassador, creating and promoting a cross-culture of music that moves effortlessly among jazz, Latin, and classical.”
—The National Endowment for the Arts
“Writing with his Cuban heart on his sleeve, the legendary reed player and composer of jazz and traditional Cuban music is passionate as he discusses everything from the importance of learning to read music to cellist Yo-Yo Ma's thoughts on communism. The narrative moves quickly as D'Rivera bops back and forth between his life as a musical prodigy in Cuba, stories of musical greats like Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, and his international travels. And while most of the book is upbeat and humorous, the passages where D'Rivera recalls his 1981 defection from Cuba and the people he left behind are especially poignant. D'Rivera is openly critical of Castro's beliefs and actions, what he sees as the faults of communism, the political systems of Latin America and any government that strives to curb artistic freedom and expression….D'Rivera's writing—like his music—is infused with zest.”
—Publishers Weekly (on My Sax Life)
"Whether playing Bach or post-bop, D'Rivera's mastery of the instruments and their expressive capabilities is unquestionable."
—Classical New Jersey
“My Sax Life is a most descriptive and well-written book.”
“One of the most promising sights in jazz is Paquito D'Rivera, coming your way with his clarinet bag over his shoulder. Chances are he's smiling and going to make you happy, too. Yet joyful and funny as he is, D'Rivera takes his hard-won musical freedom seriously.”
About the Author
Cuban-born clarinetist and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera is celebrated for his artistry in Latin jazz and achievements in classical composition. He has received fourteen Grammys, the NEA Jazz Masters Award, and the National Medal of the Arts, among many others, and is the only artist to have won Grammys in both Classical and Latin Jazz categories. His numerous recordings include more than thirty solo albums. He lives in New Jersey.
About the Translator
Rosario Moreno is a Cuban-born bilingual translator, writer, creative director, and executive producer. A U.S. Hispanic Market Specialist, she has worked for both the Univision and Telemundo networks and produced over one hundred TV commercials and programs, as well as numerous advertising and merchandising campaigns. She translates both from English to Spanish and from Spanish to English.