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.
From Washington Post:
“One musician who embodies Nicholson’s theory of “globalization” is Paquito D’Rivera, a Cuban-born saxophone and clarinet virtuoso who plays classical music, jazz and Latin dance music with equal skill. A professional musician since the age of 6, D’Rivera has also written a novel, and in My Sax Life (Northwestern Univ., $29.95) he’s produced a breathless, sometimes vulgar romp through his life, both before and after his exile from Cuba.
A staunch opponent of Fidel Castro, D’Rivera has no patience for anyone who admires anything about Cuba under communism — and that includes Nelson Mandela and Gabriel García Márquez. He dramatically describes his 1980 escape, when he sought asylum in Spain and left his wife and son behind. (They were later reunited, but the marriage didn’t survive.) D’Rivera recites endless lists of sidemen and recording dates,
but he reveals little of his own musical approach, except to praise Brazilian music as “the most balanced formula of rhythm-melody-harmony in the world” and to mock Cuban trumpeters for “playing high-pitched notes that only dogs can hear.”