Diego Rivera Associate Professor of Jazz Studies, Saxophone and Improvisation, and Associate Director of Jazz Studies


  • Jazz Studies

301 Music Practice Building
East Lansing, MI 48824

(517) 432-4489

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Video Interview


A world-class musician, composer, arranger and educator, Diego Rivera has entertained audiences for over 15 years. Rivera is known for his muscular tone and unique blend of straight-ahead mainstream jazz fused with music inspired by his Latino background and heritage. He currently holds an appointment as Associate Professor of Jazz Saxophone at Michigan State University where he also serves as Associate Director of Jazz Studies. 

Since 1999, he has performed concerts across the United States, Canada, Greece, Japan and South Korea. His debut recording, Hercules was released in 2006 on his own record label, Rivera Records. His latest CD project, The Contender (D-Clef Records 2013) received national critical-acclaim reaching #8 on the JazzWeek Radio Charts. Rivera has also appeared on several recordings as a sideman and arranger.

An avid composer and arranger, Rivera has written arrangements for a number of recordings and artists most notably for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s “Motor City Jazz” concert, a tribute to the music and musicians of Detroit. His arranging work can be heard on two of the Carl Allen-Rodney Whitaker recordings for Mack Avenue Records: Get Ready (2007) and Work To Do (2008).

A passionate educator, Rivera has presented masterclasses at schools and universities both in the US and abroad. Several of his former students enjoy careers as professional performing musicians with artists such as: Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Birdland Big Band, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra and the GRAMMY-Award winning group, Snarky Puppy.

In addition to his own ensemble, Rivera has toured with Juno-Award winning Canadian Vocalist, Sophie Milman, The Rodney Whitaker Quartet and the MSU Professors of Jazz. Rivera has also performed or recorded with Christian McBride, Ellis Marsalis, Jimmy Cobb, Wycliffe Gordon, The Mack-Avenue Superband, The Lincoln Center Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra and The Gerald Wilson Big Band.


  • The Contender; D Clef Records (2013)
  • The Contender, Diego Rivera
  • Hercules; Rivera Records (2006)
  • Morena, Diego Rivera