Listening To Good Music

Paquito D’Rivera on Listening To Good Music

In a 2013 interview with Anat Cohen published in JazzTimes, one of my heroes , composer and wind instrument virtuosos Paquito D’Rivera talks about what he learned from his father about listening to good music.

“Well, my father is still today a main figure to look up to in my career. He was a classical saxophone player. He never had the ability to improvise. But he loved the music of Ellington, and especially the Goodman Orchestra. He used to play for me many Goodman swing band songs; he never called it “jazz.” For some reason he didn’t like the word “jazz.” He preferred to call it “swing.” He’d play the Goodman Swing Orchestra back to back with Goodman’s wonderful rendition of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. So, I was like 8 or 9 years old and also I was pretty confused. But it was a very happy confusion, because he had the concept of that music. He was very Ellingtonian, not only because he loved the Ellington orchestra, but because he said there are only two kinds of music: good and the other is not. When you play or at least try to understand different sides of music, you become a better musician, like when you can speak different languages. You understand life better, you know? So I think it is a big mistake when people concentrate only on one. Many jazz people are too sectarian sometimes. They don’t want to hear nothing else but Bird, Dizzy, Ellington and so on. What about listening to other types of music that Bird, Dizzy, and Ellington tell you to listen to? I think those great jazz musicians are so great because they understand other cultures. Jazz is a music coming out of a multi-national and multi-ethnic society and country. Everybody here has put their own thing into this wonderful style called “jazz.” So, my father saw that from the beginning, and I was very fortunate to be his student.”

Good advice from Paquito. Read the rest of the interesting interview – Jazz Is A Blessing in Jazz Times.

Some Paquito you may not have heard. Listen for quotes of various songs in his improvisation.