Primary Instrument: Trumpet
A native of the South Bronx, RAY VEGA is a veteran of the bands of Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria, Mario Bauza, Luis Perico Ortiz, Hector LaVoe, Johnny Pacheco, Larry Harlow, Pete El Conde Rodriguez and Louie Ramirez to name a few. Ray has performed and/or recorded with Joe Henderson, Lionel Hampton, Mel Torme, Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Israel Lopez Cachao, The Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, The Lincoln Center Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Paul Simon, Yomo Toro, Eddie Palmieri, La Orquesta Sinfonica De Simon Bolivar, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Bebo Valdez, and Celia Cruz.
Ray has now established himself as one of the innovators of the New York Jazz and Latin music scenes. A multi-talented trumpeter, percussionist, composer, and arranger, he presents Jazz from a refreshingly original and contemporary perspective. His two recordings onthe Concord Picante label, his self-titled debut Ray Vega, and Boperation, along with his 1st release on the Palmetto label Pa'lantehave been well received by critics, audiences and musicians alike. Vega's 2nd Palmetto CD Squeeze, Squeeze has also received critical acclaim including Four Stars in Down Beat Magazine.
Vega grew up immersed in the heart of two vibrant New York City music scenes: Jazz and Salsa. In addition to learning about these two musical styles with some of the great legends, he received his formal training studying trumpet with Sydney Baker, Henry Nowak, Mike Lawrence, Stan Shafran, Laurie Frink, Richard Brezowski and Jerry Gonzalez. He studied Jazz harmony and improvisation with Susan Winder, Bobby Rogovin and Lonnie Hillyer. Vega studied Afro-Caribbean percussion with Luis Bauzo. Ray Vega is a graduate of the legendary High School of Music and Art.
Ray Vega’s sextet presents fiery Latin Jazz from a Nuyorican perspective, while his quartet focuses on straight ahead swinging Jazz. He co-leads AmbosMundosUSA with soprano Sharon Spinetti. This project presents a fusion of Classical repertoire with the sounds of Jazz and world music. Ray’s newest project is Ray Vega y La Nueva Era. This group showcases the new talent coming onto the Jazz/Salsa/Latin Jazz scene(s).
A much in-demand musician, he has performed with Mongo Santamaria with whom he recorded numerous CD's, Mario Bauza's Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, including their first-ever European tour, and Ray Barretto and the New World Spirit. Vega was privileged to record three projects with this landmark group including the Grammy nominated Taboo and Contact. It was during his time with Barretto that Vega was called upon to join the Tito Puente Latin Jazz Orchestra as lead trumpeter. Vega recorded with Puente's Orchestra many times over including the Grammy winning Mambo Birdland, Dancemania '99 and Obra Maestra.
Peter Watrous - Descarga.com
The mantle of Jazz Messengers-tinged Latin jazz has been at least partly assumed by trumpeterpercussionist Ray Vega’s sextet, with Squeeze, Squeeze a prime example of exciting, creative improvising and danceable polyrhythms that are seemingly inexhaustible.
Will Smith - Down Beat Magazine
Vega's own style of trumpet imparts the best in his forerather's traits: the crisp, intelligent delivery of Freddie Hubbard, the passionate fortitude of Kenny Dorham, the clean precision of Woody Shaw, and the romantic depth of Chet Baker and Art Farmer.
...The trumpeter's instrumental artistry lies in consisency, well-connected phrases, command of all registers and good taste.
...Vega is a hornman with deep roots in Latin music and Afro-Cuban Jazz.
- The New York Daily News
Whether on trumpet of flugelhorn. which he plays with equal dexterity, he featured a sound that is bolder than that of many jazz horns, yet avoided the insistent upper register flights that is the norm among latin players.
- The Boston Globe
This fabulous recording from this underrated, Bronx-born Puerto Rican trumpeter is a shout out to the jazz trumpet gods. A veteran sideman with Ray Barretto and Mongo Santamaria, Vega pull out all the stops on this project, which could have been titled, How to Marry Latin Rhthyms to Jazz and Still Swing.
Eugene Holley Jr. - New York Latino
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Ray is currently a lecturer at the music conservatory at SUNY Purchase. Along with conducting The Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra and The Purchase Jazz Lab Band, Ray coaches a small Jazz combo, teaches jazz trumpet and Jazz history. At Purchase, Vega joins a stellar faculty that includes Jon Faddis, Hal Galper, John Abercrombie, Charles Blenzig, Todd Coolman, Graham Ashton, Randy Johnston, Javon Jackson, Dena Derose, Richie Morales, Doug Munro, John Riley, Jim Pugh, John Clark and Jim Rotondi.
As an educator, Ray Vega has been invited to conduct master classes in trumpet performance, jazz improvisation, brass performance techniques and afro-caribbean jazz. These are some of the schools and organizations with whom Ray has worked with:
- Manhattan School of Music (NY)
- The Kennedy Center (Washington, DC)
- Music Advancement Program-The Julliard School (NY)
- The New School (NY)
- City College (CUNY)
- Lehman College(CUNY)
- Flynn Arts Latin Jazz (Burlington, Vermont) 2003 through 2007, Artist in Residence
- El Consevatorio de Musica de Puerto Rico
- City Folk Organization (Dayton, Ohio) 2003-2004, Artist in Residence
- Central State University in Ohio
- Cincinnati Conservatory of Music
- University of Dayton/ Dayton, Ohio
- Litchfield Summer Jazz Camp
- Oscar Schindler Performance Arts Center(NJ) Summer Jazz Camp
- University of the Arts-Philadelphia,Pa.
- University of North Carolina @Chapel Hill (2001,2005)
- Oaktown Jazz School-Oakland,Ca.
- New York City Department of Education
- Albany, NY School District
- Bedford, NY School District
- Scarsdale, NY School District
- Notre Dame University/Lebanon
- Tortola Public School System BVI
- Victoria College, Victoria, Texas
- York College,Queens-NY CUNY
- Purchase Summer Jazz Initiative