Vega, Ray

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Vega, Ray

Vega, Ray, Latin-jazz trumpeter, percussionist, composer, arranger; b. April 3, 1961. He was raised in the South Bronx and grew up immersed in salsa and jazz. He began playing trumpet in junior high and continued his studies at N.Y.’s H.S. of Music and Art. He won a music scholarship to Long Island Univ., but left after two years to work at as a banker. Two years later, he returned to music and soon was gigging extensively on the salsa scene. He worked with Mongo Santamaría for four and a half years (1982-86), then briefly with Mario Bauza’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Orch. After touring Europe with Bauza, he joined Ray Barretto and New World Spirit (1988); shortly thereafter, he was invited to join Tito Puente’s Latin Jazz group. After two years of playing for both bands, Vega devoted himself to playing with Puente, working as lead trumpeter. In the mid-1990s, he was signed to Concord Jazz to record as a leader on his own.


Ray Vega (1996).

—Lewis Porter