JAZZ REVIEW : D’Rivera Offers More Than Basics at Catalina’s
Paquito D’Rivera, the Cuban saxophonist who docked at Catalina’s Bar and Grill in Hollywood on Tuesday, believes in giving the people value for money.
Example: In what was announced as an original composition dedicated to Carmen McRae, he managed to include quotes from “Mona Lisa,” “Samba de Orfeu,” “Pagliacci,” “Allen’s Alley” and a couple of other unidentified flying melodies. Seven tunes for the price of one.
The basic melody was pleasant enough, though it might have worked advantageously at a less frenetic tempo. Even D’Rivera seemed aware of this. Granting that the pace was “a bit hectic,” he said: “Now we’d like to offer our South of the Border version of ‘Summertime.’ ”
Starting with a synthesizer vamp by Cocho Abres, this took almost five minutes to get to “Summertime” itself, played in 6/4 time, followed by a 4/4 passage leading to a clarinet-and-cymbal interlude, a keening guitar foray by Fareed Haque, and an alto saxophone solo in which D’Rivera managed to incorporate bits and pieces from “Rhapsody in Blue” and “But Not For Me.”
On a final samba the rhythmic accents were underlined by two Peruvians, Oscar Estagnaro on bass and Alex Acuna, the highly regarded drummer. The arrangement wove its way in and out of a quote from “Salt Peanuts” (Dizzy Gillespie, vintage 1945).
With his shrill, abrasive alto sound, high-energy style and genial personality, D’Rivera kept the customers entertained. He even had jokes such as the reference to Miami as North Cuba. As a clarinetist he has chops to spare, though an entire chorus played unaccompanied on “All The Things You Are” seemed a little much. But at least it didn’t include any quotes. The group closes Sunday.