My Sax Life: A Memoir

Paquito D'Rivera, Author, Ilan Stavans, Foreword by . Northwestern Univ. $29.95 (375p) ISBN 978-0-8101-2218-5

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. B&w photos. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
Paperback - 372 pages - 978-0-8101-2524-7
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