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, 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.
Vega's latest CD is "East-West Trumpet Summit" is a collaboration with Seattle trumpeter Thomas Marriott. The CD was released in the summer of 2010 on Origin Records and has hit number 1 on the Jazzweek national radio Jazz charts during the week of June 21, 2010.
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.
*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!
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".