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Paquito D'Rivera's "Charlie Parker with Strings" at Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City, NY, USA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debra C. Argen and Edward F. Nesta   
Paquito D'Rivera - photo by Frank Stewart Jazz at Lincoln CenterPaquito D'Rivera's "Charlie Parker with Strings" at The Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, was a celebration of the music of Charlie "Bird" Parker. In the creative and talented hands of Paquito D'Rivera, winner of 11 Grammy® Awards, and 16 acclaimed musicians, it was a most memorable and magical evening of music befitting the talents of the late Charlie Parker.


Although Charlie "Bird" Parker (August 28, 1920 - March 12, 1955) did not live a long life, he died at the age of 34, what he accomplished musically for the Jazz genre has had a lasting impact on the world of Jazz. His creative genius, and what he accomplished by going beyond borders and pushing envelopes at all angles continues to influence Jazz musicians today.

On March 8 and 9, 2013, Jazz at Lincoln Center celebrated the music of two powerful, iconic Jazz musicians, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie "Bird Parker, during the Dizzy Gillespie and "Bird" Festival, with the performances, "Celebrating Dizzy Gillespie" and Paquito D'Rivera's "Charlie Parker with Strings."

On March 9, 2013, we went to hear Paquito D'Rivera's "Charlie Parker with Strings," a stunning musical tribute and homage to one of the late Jazz greats by a current Jazz great, clarinetist, saxophonist, arranger, composer, Paquito D'Rivera.

With The Allen Room's stunning windowed wall overlooking Central Park and Columbus Circle as a backdrop, Paquito explained that while strings are not typically a part of Jazz, Charlie Parker was someone always looking for something different, and noted, "We are doing, "To Bird With Strings," not "Bird with Strings." It won't be an exact copy, because I cannot copy exactly what Bird was doing. We'll play some of the original arrangements with the strings exactly as they were recorded except for Charlie Parker's part, and arrangements of music that he didn't record. We'll also play the Latin Charlie Parker - things like My Little Suede Shoes, Tico Tico, and Un Poquito De Tu Amor by my compatriot Julio Gutierrez. It's going to be like a game. Bird was so creative that we have to be creative in some way in order to celebrate the memory."

The Allen Room photo by Nick Himmel
The Allen Room at Lincoln Center

And what a way to celebrate! Conductor Paquito D'Rivera on alto saxophone, clarinet, and oboe, Alex Brown - piano, Ben Williams - bass, Vince Cherico - drums, Pablo Stagnaro - percussion, Andrei Matorin - violin, concertmaster, Christian Hoes - violin, Rob Thomas - violin, Tomoko Omura - violin, Ali Bello - violin, Andy Stein - violin, Nick Revel - viola, Celia Hatton - viola, Dana Leong - cello, trombone, Malcolm Parson - cello, Charles Pillow - oboe, alto saxophone, and Riza Printup - harp, created a memorable tribute to "Bird" Parker.

The evening opened with the song, Just Friends, written by John Klenner and Sam M. Lewis, arranged by Jimmy Carroll, followed by the Cole Porter song, Easy to Love arranged by Jimmy Mundy, which featured a nice trombone solo by Dana Leong. Next came, another Cole Porter song, What Is This Thing Called Love, also arranged by Jimmy Carroll.

The dreamy and romantic, April In Paris, written by Vernon Duke and E.Y. Harburg and arranged by Jimmy Carroll, featured Paquito on saxophone, with an oboe solo by Charles Pillow in the middle, that Paquito explained as "difficult, but worth it." I'm In The Mood For Love, a Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields song arranged by Joe Lippman, kept the feeling of romance flowing.

Paquito D'Rivera performing - Photo by Frank Stewart
Paquito D'Rivera performing

Changing pace and the rhythm, the band played the Brazilian song, Tico Tico, written by Zequinha de Abreu and arranged by Paquito D'Rivera, followed by a combination of My Little Suede Shoes/Un Poquito du Tu Amor written by Charlie Parker/Julio Gutierrez and arranged by the ensemble's own Ali Bello.

Paquito dedicated the Johnny Carisi song, When the Spring is Here, to Johnny's 92-year old widow who was in the audience, as was James Chirillo who edited the piece, which was very different, and very beautiful. The Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart song, arranged by ensemble harpist, Riza Printup, I Didn't Know What Time It Was and All the Things We Are followed. Switching to the Blues genre, the band segued into the well-known Charlie Parker song, Parker's Mood, arranged by Paquito D'Rivera and Charles Whalen, which had exceptional solos, including a wailing saxophone solo.

It was the type of evening that when it ends, the memory lingers on, as fresh as it was when Charlie Parker originally performed it, and then later as Paquito D'Rivera, and his excellent ensemble played tribute and homage to the one whom Paquito described as, "the world's greatest saxophone player, Charlie Parker."

Paquito D'Rivera on saxophone- photo by Frank Stewart
Paquito D'Rivera on Saxophone

"In the Spirit of Swing. The mission of Jazz at Lincoln Center is to entertain, enrich, and expand a global community for Jazz through performance, education, and advocacy. We believe Jazz is a metaphor for Democracy. Because jazz is improvisational, it celebrates personal freedom and encourages individual expression. Because jazz is swinging, it dedicates that freedom to finding and maintaining common ground with others. Because jazz is rooted in the blues, it inspires us to face adversity with persistent optimism."

Jazz at Lincoln Center is conveniently located on the fifth floor of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in Frederick P. Rose Hall, and has three distinct state-of-the-art venues: the Rose Theatre, The Allen Room, and Dizzy's Club Coca Cola offering exceptional performances for all ages.

The Rose Theatre is the largest of the venues, (1,200-seats). It was "designed acoustically to be the premier jazz performance hall in the world, Rose Theater is the result of a collaboration between Jazz at Lincoln Center Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis and the top international theater planners and engineers to create the centerpiece of the "House of Swing."  

The Allen Room (490 seats), was "based on the design of a Greek amphitheater, merges luxuriant splendor with functional accessibility."

Dizzy's Club Coca Cola is an intimate 140-seat club and features live jazz performances seven nights a week. In addition to stunning views, the club has a full-service dining menu.

For information on upcoming performances Jazz at Lincoln Center in The Allen Room, Rose Theatre, or Dizzy's Club Coca Cola, please visit, the website:

Tickets may be purchased by calling CenterCharge at +1-212-721-6500, which is open daily from 10:00 am until 9:00 pm, or may be purchased at the Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office, located on Broadway at 60th Street, on the ground floor.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Box Office hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm (or 30 minutes past curtain) and Sunday from noon until 6:00 pm (or 30 minutes past curtain).

Jazz at Lincoln Center, New YorkJazz at Lincoln Center
(Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle)
Broadway at 60th Street, 5th floor
New York, New York 10019
United States
Telephone:  +1-212-258-9800

For upcoming Paquito D'Rivera performances, please visit the website:

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© April 2013. Luxury Experience. All rights reserved.

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