October 2013 CD of the Month

Jan 23, 2014

Diego Rivera "The Contender" D Clef Records

 Diego Rivera is a superb saxophonist who since 2002 has been on the faculty of Michigan State University of East Lansing, MI as an Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies, Saxophone, and Improvisation. For his second release as a leader, The Contender for D Clef Records, Diego has come out swingin’ for all eleven of the selections on the CD, eight of which he penned, he’s accompanied by 2 of his M. S. U, colleagues, Rodney Whitaker on bass who also wrote the liner notes, trombonist Michael Dease who is the proprietor of the record label and Denver’s own, the superlative trumpeter Greg Gisbert. Rounding out the group; Miki Hayama on piano and Ulysses Owens Jr playing drums. 

A native of Michigan, Diego has amassed an extensive list of credits since 1999 when he toured nationally with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. His enthusiasm and commitment to education has led to his appointment as Associate Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Jazz Ensembles. However, his passion for composing, arranging and performing has never waned; he has been commissioned to write music for several major concerts and events as well as performing with the likes of Ellis Marsalis, Gerald Wilson, Christian McBride and Clark Terry-just to name several.  For The Contender, señor Rivera honors his Mexican heritage with songs he wrote representing his ethnicity, moreover he composed dedications to Johnny Griffin and Rodney Whitaker in addition to performing some refreshing new takes on jazz chestnuts.


This is an outstanding CD from start to finish, featuring a variety of sounds guaranteed to please even the most discerning jazz fans. Diego Rivera’s The Contender proves that he’ll soon be harvesting a new crop of aficionados as well as contending for top honors among saxophonists.