Like spicy cinnamon sprinkled over a creamy cup of coffee, Cuban-born jazz musician and composer Paquito D’Rivera sprinkles lively Latin flavors over the smooth, sweet standards that make up much of Charlie Parker’s 1949-50 albums both entitled Charlie Parker with Strings. Billed as “To Bird with Strings,” the March 16, 2018 performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater featured songs from the albums including “If I Should Lose You,” “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” and the classics “I’m In the Mood for Love” and “Just Friends.”
With his 16-piece combo comprising piano, bass, drums, percussion, oboe/clarinet, full string section, and yes, even harp (played by Riza Printup, wife of JALC trumpeter Marcus Printup), Sr. D’Rivera breezed through two sets (plus encore) of Birdsongs and originals (like the group’s tantalizing tribute to Dizzy Gillespie, “A Night in Englewood,” a nod to Dizzy’s longtime New Jersey home), as well as jumpin’ Cuban numbers with plenty of percussion courtesy of Rolando Morales. “Tico-Tico,” from Parker’s 1952 record South of the Border, was introduced by Paquito poking fun at the original album cover depicting Parker as a sax-playing matador next to a bright red bull – ever see a bullfight in Puerto Rico or Dominican Republic!? Another highlight was the Cole Porter tune “What Is This Thing Called Love?” which – while not on the original 1950 sides – was included on the 1995 CD reissue of Charlie Parker with Strings.
The 69-year-old Paquito played his trademark saxophone and clarinet most of the time, taking five every now and then to let another musician shine or to turn and conduct his orchestra…or to lead the audience in singing Dizzy’s quintessential “Salt Peanuts” – the accent is on the ‘pea’ not the ‘nut’!
Check out “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and the full encore here!
Images courtesy telegraph.co.uk, worldmusicreport.com, amazon.com, allenmorrison.com, jazziz.com
YouTube video courtesy Ernesto Fidel Díaz Guerrero