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Trumpeter, Composer, Arranger, Educator Ray Vega

A native of the South Bronx, RAY VEGA is a veteran of the bands of Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria, Mario Bauzá, Luis “Perico” Ortiz, Hector LaVoe, Johnny Pacheco, Larry Harlow…



Ray Vega
Ray Vega

Photograph by Danilo Navas

A native of the South Bronx, RAY VEGA is a veteran of the bands of Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria, Mario Bauzá, 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, Steve Turre, Israel Lopez “Cachao”, 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 Marco”.

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. East-West Trumpet Summit is a collaboration with Seattle trumpeter Thomas Marriott. It was released in the summer of 2010 on Origin Records and hit number 1 on the Jazzweek national radio Jazz charts during the week of June 21, 2010. Vega’s new recording Chapter Two is coming out next May 27, 2014, on Truth Revolution Records.

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 attended The Long Island University Brooklyn Center and is a graduate of the legendary High School of Music and Art. He studied Afro-Caribbean percussion with Luis Bauzo.

A much in-demand musician, Ray Vega has performed with Mongo Santamaria, with whom he recorded numerous CD’s, Mario Bauzá’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.

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Grammy Winners and Nominees

*Bebo Valdez “Bebo De Cuba”(Grammy Winner)
*Joe Henderson “Joe Henderson Big Band” Verve (1998 Grammy Winner)
*Nicholas Payton “Dear Louis” Verve (Grammy Nominee)
*Spanish Harlem Orchestra “Un Gran Dia En El Barrio” Atlantic (Grammy Nominee)
*Conrad Herwig “Latin Side of John Coltrane” Astor Place (Grammy Nominee)
*Orquesta La Nueva Era “Siguiendo La Tradicion” Salsaneo (Grammy Nominee)


Performance Highlights

*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


Trumpet Teacher/Jazz Educator

Ray is currently a senior lecturer at the University of Vermont. Along with coaching 4 Jazz combos, Ray teaches trumpet and Jazz history.

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, Melboure, Australia
– 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 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

Band Leader

Band Leader

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), 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. Vega has brought his bands on two recent tours of Europe, and the Blue Note Cafe in Beirut, Lebanon. While in Lebanon, Vega participated in three concerts that were sponsored by The American Embassy in Beirut.

A high point in Vega’s career has been his 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.

*The Ray Vega Latin Jazz Quintet presents fiery Latin Jazz from a Nuyorican perspective.
*The Ray Vega Quintet presents original and standards and focuses on hard core swinging!!
*East West Trumpet Summit showcases Vega along with trumpeter Thomas Marriott in a program of hard swinging Jazz!



Collaboration with Seattle trumpeter Thomas Marriott. Released in the summer of 2010 on Origin Records.


2010 Deutsche Grammophon release of Osvaldo Golijov’s acclaimed master work; La Pasion Segun San Marcos.


2004 Palmetto (4 Stars Down Beat Magazine)


2002 Palmetto


1999 Concord Picante


1996 Concord Picante

Selected International Releases

*David Garrett-“David Garrett” 2009 Decca GERMANY
*David Garrett-“Encore” 2008 Decca UK
*Aroma Caribe-“Musica Latina” 2000 Mylos GREECE
*Various Artist-“A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC”-Thirsty Ear Recordings 1995 UK
*Oumeima- “Ya Whirling Like a Derwish” MP Records 2005 LEBANON
*Fausto Leali-“Non Solo Blues” RTI 1996 ITALY

Selected Pop/Jazz Releases

*Mike Gordon “Moss” Rounder
*Paul Simon “Songs from the Capeman” Warner
*Nerissa “Nerissa” Active/Warner
*Garland Jeffreys “Don’t Call Me Buckwheat” RCA
*Bob Baldwin “Standing Tall” Narada
*Lionel Hampton “For the Love of Music” Mojazz
*Corey Glover “Hymns” Sony
*Karolina Strassmayer “KLARO!” Klaromusic
*NYNDK “NYNDK” Jazzheads
*A Jazz Christmas (Alliant Music)
*Brian McCarthy “This Just In” Brian McCarthy Jazz 2013

With Tito Puente

* “Obra Maestra” w/Eddie Palmieri RMM (GRAMMY WINNER)
* “Tito’s Idea” TropiJazz
* “Special Delivery” Concord Picante
* “Master Timbalero” Concord Picante
* “Mambo Birdland” RMM (GRAMMY WINNER)
* “Dance Mania ’99” RMM (GRAMMY Nominee)
* “Jazzin’ ” w/”La India Tropijazz

With Ray Barretto

* “Ancestral Messages”- Concord Picante
* “Taboo” Concord Picante (Grammy Nominee)
* “Contact” Blue Note Records(Grammy Nominee)

With Mongo Santamaria

*”Live at Jazz Alley” Concord Picante
*”Ole Ola” Concord Picante
*”Soca Me Nice” Concord Picante

With Dave Samuels and The Caribbean Jazz Project

* “Paraiso” Concord Picante
* “Birds of a Feather” Concord Picante (Grammy Nominee)

With Ambos Mundos USA

Ambos Mundos USA
the Spinetti/Vega Project
“Live from Wavehill”
Copywrite 2007 AmbosmundosUSA

Selected Latin Jazz Releases

*Latin Jazz Allstars w/Chick Corea, Arturo Sandoval, Poncho Sanchez, Pete Escovedo “Jam Miami” Concord Picante
*Pete Escovedo “E Music” Concord Picante
*John Santos And The Machete Ensemble “20th Anniversary – 2 CD Set” CD (Machete Records M205)
*John Santos Quintet-“Papa Mambo” Machete
*Wilson “Chembo” Corniel, Portrait In Rhythms CD (Chemboró Records 1001)
*The Bronx Horns “Catch the Feeling” Twin Brooks Music
*The Bronx Horns “Silver in the Bronx” Timeless
*Harvie S “New Beginning” RVS Records
*Chris Washburne “Nuyorican Nights” Jazzheads
*Chris Washburne “The Other Side” Jazzheads

Selected Salsa Releases

*Larry Harlow’s Latin Legends of FANIA 40th Anniversary Concert (Image Entertainment)
*Dave Santiago and A Latin Affair, “Rumbeando en El Solar”
*Dave Santiago and A Latin Affair, “Dave Santiago and A Latin Affair”
*Yomo Toro, Celebremos Navidad CD (Ashé 2003)
*Louie Ramirez, Louie Ramirez & Super Banda CD (Cobo 9058)
*Luis “Perico” Ortiz, In Tradicion – Canta Domingo Quiñones CD (Suave/AJ 004)
*Tito Nieves, “Yo Quiero Cantar” RMM
*Tito Nieves, “Dejame Vivir” RMM
*Carlos Cascante Y Su Tumbao, “Recuerdos” ( 2005-022)
*Frankie Morales and The Mambo of The Times Orchestra “A Toda Velocidad”
*Frankie Morales “No Te Equivoques” VMP Records 2011
*Madera Fina “Tallando La Salsa” JR Productions 1992
*The Lebron Brothers “Lo Mistico” FANIA 1996
*Los Hermanos Moreno “Para Alegrarte la Vida” RMM 1990
*Camilo Azuquita “Amentes Secretos” TTH 1989
*Justi Barreto y Su Orquesta “Aprecio El Rey” ECHU 1986
*Clase 90 “Clase 90” J&N 1990


2010 Deutsche Grammophon
*Larry Harlow’s Latin Legends of FANIA 40th Anniversary Concert (Image Entertainment)
*Warren Vache’s”I Love The Trumpet” DVD w/Mark Gould Artist House Productions
*Dora The Explorer Christmas DVD/ NIcklelodeon

Liner Notes

*Lee Morgan “Blue Break Beats” (Liner Notes) Blue Note Records

Web Publisher. Founder, Editor & Webmaster for Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report & That Canadian Magazine. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.


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