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By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University's Janet Weis Cabaret Jazz Series offers as the final event of the spring semester a performance by the renowned jazz saxophonist and clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera on Wednesday, March 30, at 8 p.m. in the Rooke Recital Hall of the Weis Music Building.
The performance, which is free and open to the public, will also feature Alex Brown, piano, and Dana Leong, cello and trombone. The Janet Weis Cabaret Jazz Series is made possible by funding from the Weis family. The recital hall is an intimate space, and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
Nine Grammy Awards
The winner of nine Grammy Awards, D'Rivera is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. Born in Havana, Cuba, he performed at age 10 with the National Theater Orchestra, studied at the Havana Conservatory of Music and, at 17, became a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony.
He is the author of two books: My Sax Life, published by Northwestern University Press, and a novel, Oh, La Habana, published by MTeditores, Barcelona. He is the recipient of the NEA Jazz Masters Award 2005 and the National Medal of the Arts 2005, as well as the Living Jazz Legend Award from the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C., in 2007.
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. He 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. In 1991, D'Rivera received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Carnegie Hall for his contributions to Latin music.
A June 2007 winner in the Jazz Soloist category of Downbeat magazine's Student Music Awards, Brown is continuing his studies at New England Conservatory and performing in the Boston and Washington, D.C., areas along with festival appearances in the Panama Jazz Festival, the Curacao Jazz Festival in the Caribbean, the East Coast Jazz Festival, and the Telluride Jazz Festival in Colorado among others. At the age of 13, he won first place in the Encore Orchestra Young Artist Competition, which gave him the opportunity to perform Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" in its entirety with a full orchestra.
Leong has held roles as both a performer and composer with top artists including the 2006 Grammy-nominated jazz chamber trio led by Paquito D'Rivera (where he fills a chair frequented by Yo-Yo Ma) and the 2007 Grammy-nominated Dafnis Prieto Absolute Quintet. He has worked with Ray Charles, Diddy, Kanye West, Wynton Marsalis, Yoko Ono, and more. Following his successful debut release Leaving New York (featuring Grammy Award winners Christian McBride and Paquito D'Rivera), he recently completed his latest recording Anthems of Life.