My Sax Life

Trade Paper – $19.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2524-7

Trade Cloth – $29.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2218-5
Publication Date
November 2005
Page Count
400 pages
Trim Size
6-1/8 x 9-1/4

My Sax Life

A Memoir
Paquito D'Rivera

Winner of 2005 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition
Winner of 2005 National Medal of Arts

My Sax Life is the award-winning memoir of famed Cuban musician Paquito D'Rivera. A best-selling artist with more than thirty solo albums to his credit, D'Rivera has performed at the White House and the Blue Note, and with orchestras, jazz ensembles, and chamber groups around the world. Propelled by jazz-fueled high spirits, D'Rivera's story soars and spins from memory to memory in a collage of his remarkable life. D'Rivera recalls his early nightclub appearances as a child, performing with clowns and exotic dancers, as well as his search for artistic freedom in communist Cuba and his hungry explorations of world music after his defection. Opinionated but always good-humored, My Sax Life is a fascinating statement on art and the artist's life.

About the Author

Paquito D'Rivera was born in 1948 in Havana, Cuba. His celebrated recordings include the Grammy-winning Historia del Soldado (2003), Brazilian Dreams (2003), Live at the Blue Note (2001), and Portraits of Cuba (1996). D'Rivera is celebrating his fiftieth year as a performer in 2004 with concerts throughout the world and culminating with a special celebration at Carnegie Hall in January 2005. He lives in North Bergen, New Jersey.

"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 (b. 1948) 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. He liberally inserts quotations, letters and extended passages written by friends, acquaintances and fellow musicians to add different perspectives on his own stories (which often seem to set the record straight). D'Rivera's knowledge of music and recording is readily apparent, but his penchant for naming everyone he ever played with can become tedious. Still, D'Rivera's writing—like his music—is infused with zest." —Publishers Weekly

"A breathless, sometimes vulgar romp through [D'Rivera's] life, both before and after his exile from Cuba." —Washington Post Book World

"Paquito is able to with great simpatico float the reader into imagery of the wonderful family of music." —Bill Cosby