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Ray Vega: Ray Vega

This eponymous debut by the trumpeter best known for his work with Tito Puente is surprisingly relaxed and low key; quietly expressive rather than explosive. The tempos are fairly moderate and there is little attempt to dazzle with rapid fire or high-note pyrotechnics. The nine selections are varied and include the samba “Partido Alto,” the cha cha cha “Tahluchahchah,” John Lewis’ “Afternoon in Paris,” Frank Loesser’s “No Two People,” and two originals, “It’s a New York Thing,” and “Psalm 150.” Vega plays percussion on three of the tracks and is heard on flugelhorn on “Partido Alto” and “It’s a New York Thing.” Special guests include trombonist Chris Washburne and saxophonist Craig Rivers. Vega, a very capable instrumentalist, is not especially distinctive here. I heard him playing descargas with trombonist Jimmy Bosch and the Masters at the Knitting Factory not too long ago, and he projected far more individuality and sabor than he does on this release.

Originally Published