Puerto Rican trumpeter Ray Vega and his quintet is set to perform at Zinc Bar Jazz Club, located at 82 West 3rd Street in New York, New York. Below, see excerpts of an autobiographical piece that Vega wrote for Burlington Free Press in 2013.
Origin Records writes: 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, Israel Lopez “Cachao”, Las Leyendas De La Fania, Pete Escovedo, The Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, The Lincoln Center Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Paul Simon, John Santos and The Machete Ensemble, Jose Jose, Sheila E., Yomo Toro, Michel Camilo, Kirk Franklin, Marco Antonio Muñiz, Eddie Palmieri, La Orquesta Sinfonica De Simon Bolivar, Sandro De Las Americas, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Bebo Valdez, and Celia Cruz, among numerous others.
Music was ‘my escape’: As a child of the ’60s and ’70s, I grew up in a housing project in New York City’s South Bronx. Other than a trip to Puerto Rico to visit family, the only world that I knew as a young person was The Paterson Houses in the South Bronx. Although located in the middle of the poorest congressional district in the United States, life there seemed to be in control. Yes, there were an enormous amount of drugs and gang activity all around us. Most of the families knew each other and looked out for each other’s children. This helped to create a sense of safety. It was indeed a different time then.
By and large, those who resided there were lower-income working folks who aspired to raise the quality of life of their families. Back then, moving to a housing project was a huge step upward from tenement life in “El Barrio” and Harlem. The Latinos there were predominantly from Puerto Rico via “El Barrio” while the blacks were largely from the Deep South via Harlem. A small amount of the blacks were recent arrivals from the West Indies. There were a small number of whites of Polish, Italian and Irish decent. We were all there working real hard to “make it.” The stories from our elders concerning their work as dishwashers, factory workers and a myriad of other low-paying jobs compelled all of us to set goals and to work diligently to attain them. It was a struggle.
For more on Ray Vega, see the artist’s page at http://www.rayvegamusic.com/bio.html
See short bio at http://originarts.com/artists/artist.php?Artist_ID=173