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, The Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Poncho Sanchez, Steve Turre, Israel Lopez "Cachao", Larry Harlow and Las Leyendas De La Fania, Pete Escovedo, The Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, Jazz at Lincoln Center Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Paul Simon, John Santos and The Machete Ensemble, Jose Jose, Sheila E., Yomo Toro, Anna Saeki, Frank Foster's Loud Minority Big Band, Diane Schuur, The Mike Stewart Big Band, Michel Camilo, Kirk Franklin, The Bob Belden Big Band, Dave Samuels and The Caribbean Jazz Project, Marco Antonio Muñiz, Jeanie Bryson, Eddie Palmieri, James "Jabbo" Ware and The Me, We and Them Orchestra, La Orquesta Sinfonica De Simon Bolivar, Sandro De Las Americas, The Mingus Big Band, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Bebo Valdez, and Celia Cruz, among numerous others. Ray currently works with the renowned Comtemporary Classical composer Osvaldo Golijov, performing first and solo trumpet in the critically acclaimed work; "La Pasion Segun San Marcos".
Ray has now established himself as one of the innovators of the international 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 on the Concord Picante label, his self-titled debut "Ray Vega", and "Boperation", along with his 1st release on the Palmetto label "Pa'lante"have 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's 2 CDs on the Origin label co-lead with the Seattle's Thomas Marriott on trumpet, "East-West Trumpet Summit" 2010 and "The Return of The East-West Trumpet Summit" 2014 have both done quite well with Jazz radio. In 2010 Their debut recording hit number 1 on The Jazzweek national Jazz radio charts. In 2015 their second CD reached number 14 on the Jazzweek charts and remained in the top 20 for over 6 weeks.
In 2014 Vega released his first recording as a leader which focused solely on Jazz from a BeBop/HardBop perspective. "Chapter Two" on the Truth Revolution Records label received 3 and a half stars in Downbeat Magazine in November 2014.
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. Vega attended The Long Island University Brooklyn Center and is a graduate of the legendary High School of Music and Art.
*The Ray Vega Latin Jazz Quintet presents fiery Latin Jazz from a Nuyorican perspective.
*East West Trumpet Summit showcases Vega along with trumpeter Thomas Marriott in a program of hard swinging Jazz!
*The Ray Vega Quartet presents original and standards and focuses on hard core swinging!!
*Ray Vega and Son De Los Montes is Vega's Vermont based Salsa band which focuses on Afro-Caribbean dance music.
*The Ray Vega Latin Jazz Quinteto is Vega's Vermont based ensemble which presents original compositions by Vega which combine elements of Jazz, Latin and Funk elements.
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".
*Featured soloist with The Burlington Chamber Orchestra (BCO) presenting their special concert "A Night Of Latin Jazz" showcasing Vega with his quintet along with the strings of the BCO performing all new arrangements of his original compositions. Burlington, Vermont March 2017
*Featured soloist on Chico O'Farrill's THE AZTEC SUITE. Performed with The SUNY Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Arturo O'Farrill. Purchase, NY-March 2009
*Featured soloist on Dizzy Gillespie/Chico O'Farrill MANTECA SUITE. Performed with The UVM Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Alex Stewart. Burlington, Vermont-November 2008
*Featured soloist on Gil Evans' SKETCHES of SPAIN. Performed with The Elder Conservatorium of Music Orchestra under the direction Robert Hower. The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia-August 2008.
*Featured soloist on the Gil Evans/Miles Davis classic treatment of George Gershwin's PORGY AND BESS. Performed with The Elder Conservatorium of Music Orchestra under the direction Robert Hower. The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia-August 2009.
*Featured soloist along with pianist Paul Orgel on Dmitri Shostakovich's CONCERTO FOR PIANO,TRUMPET and STRINGS. The Burlington Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Michael Hopkins. Burlington, Vermont-September 2008.
*First trumpet and soloist with Ozvaldo Golijov's LA PASION SEGUN SAN MARCOS.
Atlanta, Georgia- Feb. 2006
New York, New York- Feb. 2006
London, England Feb.-2006
Oporto, Portugal Feb.-2006
Miami, Florida Feb.-2007
Caracas, Venezuela Feb.-2007
New York, New York MOSTLY MOZART FESTIVAL-Aug. 2007
Ferrara, Milan, Rome Italy-Jan, 2008
Amsterdam, Holland-June 2008
The Canary Islands-Jan. 2009
Los Angeles- June 2010
Cartagena, Colombia-January 2012
Buenos Aires, Argentina-March 2012
New York City/Carnegie Hall March 2013
*Featured soloist with The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival Nonet in their performances of the music of seminal
Miles Davis album “Birth of the Cool”
June 2012 at The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival
September 2012 at The UVM Recital Hall
May 2013 at SUNY Plattsburgh
Renowned Bassist and Jazz Educator Todd Coolman says-
"(Ray Vega's) creating a very, very valuable bridge from the classroom to the bandstand........That's the magic that Ray brings. He transcends academia and makes it real" www.toddcoolman.com
Trumpet Teacher/ Jazz Educator
Vega is currently a senior lecturer at the University of Vermont. Along with coaching 4 Jazz combos, he teaches trumpet and Jazz history. In 2015 the University of Vermont honored him with the distinguished title of University Scholar for 2015-2016. He was the first creative in the history of the university to receive this high honor.
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:
-The Elder Conservatorium of The University of Adelaide,Australia
-Victoria Conservatory of the Arts, Melbourne,Australia
-The Pembroke School, Adelaide, Australia
-Saint Xavier School, Cincinnati, Ohio
- Manhattan School of Music (NY)
- The Kennedy Center (Washington, DC)
- Music Advancement Program-The Julliard School (NY)
- The New School (NY)
-City College (CUNY)
- Flynn Arts Latin Jazz (Burlington, Vermont) 2003 through 2009, 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
In addition to his busy sideman and teaching schedule, Vega has also been developing his own bands. The Ray Vega Quartet (bebop and beyond), Ray Vega and The New York Latin Jazz All Stars (following in the footsteps of Mongo, Barretto and Fort Apache).
Vega has performed at the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art (both in NYC), Wave Hill in NYC, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (five years in a row), the San Jose Jazz Festival (1999, 2000, 2004, 2005), The Blue Note, Birdland, The Jazz Standard, Tula's in Seattle, Jazz at The Bistro in St. Louis, Mo, The Blue Wisp in Cincinnati, Churchill Grounds in Atlanta, Jazz en Carolina-Puerto Rico, Artsplosure in Raleigh, NC, the Battery Park Salsa Series and the South Street Seaport/Heineken Latin Jazz Series, The Duncan Theatre in West Palm Beach Fla., the 2002 U.S. Open, the Berne International Jazz Festival and Marian's Jazz Room in Switzerland, and the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival. While in Lebanon in 2002, Vega participated in three concerts that were sponsored by The American Embassy in Beirut.
A recent high point in Vega's career has been his celebrated March 2017 concert with The Burlington Chamber Orchestra featuring new arrangements of his compositions for his Latin Jazz Quintet and the strings of the Burlington Chamber Orchestra. August '08 trip to Australia where he performed and recorded the Australian premier of the classic Miles Davis/Gil Evans work,Sketches of Spain. In '09 Vega returned to Adelaide to perform the famous "Porgy and Bess" arranged by Gil Evans for Miles Davis' recording by the same name.