Ray 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 Sidney Baker, Henry Nowak, Mike Lawrence, Stan Shafran, 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.
As an educator, Ray Vega has conducted master classes in trumpet performance, jazz improvisation, brass performance techniques and afro-caribbean jazz at many schools and organizations including, but not limited to: Manhattan School of Music, The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, The Music Advancement Program at the Julliard School, The New School in NYC, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Notre Dame University/Lebanon. He has also served as Artist in Residence for the Flynn Arts Latin Jazz here in Burlington (2003 through the present).
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.
"(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." — Todd Coolman, renowned bassist and jazz educator.
Groups accompanied: 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, Israel Lopez "Cachao", The Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, The Lincoln Center Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Paul Simon, Yomo Toro, Eddie Palmieri, La Orquesta Sinfonica De Simon Bolivar, 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".
In the news:
- 10/8/21: NBC5, "Vermont musician Ray Vega aims to liberate listeners through his music"
- 9/9/21: Seven Days, Ray Vega Wins 2021 Herb Lockwood Prize in the Arts
- 9/25/20: "Ray Vega Awarded the Ellen McCulloch-Lovell Award in Arts Education"
- 5/3/18: VPR, "Musician, Composer and Educator Ray Vega Joins VPR as Host of 'Friday Night Jazz'"
- 3/22/17: Seven Days, "BCO and Ray Vega Turn Up the Heat with Latin Jazz"
- Fall 2016: Vermont Quarterly, "The Creative Mind"