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.