Ray Vega - Chapter II



Recorded by Chris Spencer at Sophiahat Studio/Seattle, Washington
Mixed by Don Gunn at The Office
Mastered by John McCaig at Panic Studios
Piano- George Colligan
Bass- Phil Sparks
Drums-Matt Jorgensen
Ray Vega-Trumpet and Flugelhorn
Recording session produced by Thomas Marriott

Liner Notes


For all those who thoroughly enjoy listening and collecting music:

"Latino musicians in North America have always faced problems of identity as great as their non-playing compatriotas, if not greater. For some, it's a Faustian tug of war between typical roots and American mainstream; others seem to swim naturally in both currents. Ray Maldonado is an excellent example of the latter. He's remembered today as a beautiful human being and a trumpet player of astounding natural gifts" -David Carp

I use Mr. Carp's quote from this article on Ray Maldonado to preface what I am going to write because it hits home with me(being that I am the first generation born Ecuadorian American in my family). So I can relate to the struggles of being Latino American in the world of American music. As I am sure trumpeter Ray Vega(and my musical peers)can relate. It's something I got to speak with my hero Manny Duran about. And it's a subject I hope to get Ray's insight on at some point in what I hope to be a long friendship. But we are here to discuss music and not race. So if you close your eyes and just listen to Chapter Two none of that will matter because you'll be experiencing a great record. Listening to really good music!

Last night I listened to Ray Vega's Chapter 2 on Truth Revolution Records.. And what a pleasant surprise to hear this Master trumpeter record a beautiful straight ahead record. Ray has George Colligan piano, Phil Sparks on Bass and Matt Jorgensen on drums. Ray does mostly covers on this record with the exception of tracks 5- Second Chance and 6-Freedom. Both by Vega. And both very appropriate for just such a record date. After all, Ray wanted to put out a straight ahead record and that he did my friends.

Now.. As a fan of this music there's nothing harder to hear than covers. I know this and you(as a fan and a listener) know this. Especially when it comes to being the composition of Jazz trumpet's last great innovator Woody Shaw. It's a courageous move on Maestro Vega's part but one that he carries out with great confidence and conviction. Being a fan of the music requires us to look/listen deeper and to remember that we all have an individual voice. Some artist are virtuosos, some have an innate talent for the music, some are well studied and there are the few that have all of these traits. So you can imagine my excitement when I read Sweet Love Of Mine as the first tune. Because as you could imagine, I'm excited to hear the interpretation. That's what this music is about. Aurally learning the music and language, then show us the listener your interpretation. That's the beauty of Jazz music.

As the intro(of Sweet Love Of Mine) came on I prepared myself to listen to the record by dimming the lights, taking a toke and closing my eyes(all the time wishing Ray my best in this venture) and to my surprise Mr. Vega delivered the tune beautifully. As he did every tune on the whole album. Ray has an extrordinary thing happening. Ray as we all know is from the So. Bronx of Puerto Rican descent. His experience is vast and it's his knowledge of music that got him there. Not only is he a prominent voice in Latin or Afro-Cuban music but he is a devout student of Jazz and Classical music. I of course consider him a Master among us that pursue the art but he would probably debate that with great humility.

What got me about this record was Ray's playing more than anything. The crew he picked to back him on this project are first rate. This is after all, a studio date. And I'm just tickled to think what the result would be if Ray had the opportunity to take this particular unit on the road for a while. I think he would have a great band(which we are in need of these days.. More bands!!).

Ray has a unique approach when it comes to playing Jazz music. To me Mr. Vega has qualities in his sound that are reminiscent of Booker Little, Miles and Art Farmer.. There's a certain vulnerability in his sound that is a bit revealing of Ray himself.. And I couldn't love anything more. His approach to improvising can remind me a bit of Art Farmer, Dizzy Reece and Miles. A unique combination I know. But so is Ray Vega. Ray Vega is very unique.

That's just it. His uniqueness! Ray's very personal approach to blowing over changes is all his own. And why should't it be. He's a master of many languages and all of them come from or stem from Mother Africa. To hear him share his vast experience on tunes like Sweet Love, Dual Force or It Could Happen is just a quick glance at the depth of the this mans career and just scraping the surface on much more he can offer the world of music.

There are few trumpet players (that I can personally think of) that can turn the switch from one side to another. Mike Rodriguez(from my hometown of Miami) being one of them and the other being the legendary Ray Maldonado. Between those two excellent trumpet players(whom I admire a great deal) is the great Ray Vega! Boy... Am I proud to know you Mr. Vega.

Congrats on your musical outing. May there be many more.

-Carlos Abadie

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