Paquito D’Rivera was born June 4, 1948 in Havana, Cuba. He is a Cuban-born American saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer who plays and composes jazz and classical music.
In 1965, he was a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. He and Chucho Valdes founded Orchestra Cubana de Musica Moderna and then in 1973 the group Irakere, which fused jazz, rock, classical, and Cuban music.
By 1980, D’Rivera had become dissatisfied with the constraints placed on his music in Cuba for many years. In early 1981, while on tour in Spain, he sought asylum with the American Embassy.
D’Rivera has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall and played with the National Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, Bronx Arts Ensemble, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, YOA Orchestra of the Americas, Costa Rica National Symphony, American Youth Philharmonic, and Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra.