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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Meet Ray Vega: The New Host Of 'Friday Night Jazz' Shares Songs Of Significance

Seth Cashman
Catch more from Ray Vega every Friday at 8 p.m. on VPR during "Friday Night Jazz."

This Friday night, trumpeter, percussionist, composer, arranger and educator Ray Vega takes over as the new host of Friday Night Jazz.

To introduce you to the man behind the music, we asked Vega to share a few tracks that have played a significant role in his life and provide a peek at what he keeps on regular rotation.

Consider it a preview of Friday night's show!

What's the last song you listened to?

"A Nightingale Sang in Barkley Square" by Manhattan Transfer from the Mecca for Moderns recording. An absolutely beautiful arrangement and execution by the Manhattan Transfer.

The first record you ever owned?

High Energy by Freddie Hubbard. Funky Jazz record with some really great tunes and solos.

What's one album you couldn't get enough of in high school?

"Moanin'" by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Lee Morgan's solo on "Moanin'" just blew my head up. So much feeling and emotion.

Favorite venue you've ever performed?

Marians Jazz Room, Bern, Switzerland. I've been going there to play for the last 17 years or so. The staff and management are real lovers of Jazz. The accommodations are world class. It's like visiting family!

What's a song you wish you had written?

"A Love Supreme" by John Coltrane. Lots of spiritual content. Not of this world.

What's the most challenging piece to perform?

"26-2" by John Coltrane. I won't play it in public... it's quite challenging.

Favorite piece to listen to with family?

"They Can't Take That Away From Me" by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Pure beauty and joy!

What's your go-to recommendation for jazz novices?

Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis. It's a Jazz masterpiece which draws listeners who are not familiar to the genre. The beauty of this recording brings in folks.

Song you could listen to on repeat forever?

"Here's to Life" by Shirley Horn. It carries a truly positive message of move forward and don't go back.

What's one song your students are surprised you love?

"Yodel No. 9" by Louis Armstrong and Jimmie Rodgers. I enjoyed watching "Hee-Haw" as a young boy in NYC... I love the sound of Blue Grass and country western music. This recording is about two people from polar opposites coming together to create high art.

Catch more from Vega every Friday at 8 p.m. on VPR with Friday Night Jazz.

Emily Alfin Johnson was a senior producer for Vermont Public Radio.
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