Jazz Ensemble

Williams Jazz Ensemble

Jazz-Ens.inddThe Williams College Department of Music presents the Williams Jazz Ensemble with Ray Vega, giving their first performance of the season in Chapin Hall at 8 p.m. on Sat, Dec. 5. This free event is open to the public.

Directed by Kris Allen, the Williams Jazz Ensemble performs “bebop big band” – compositions and arrangements by Dizzy Gillespie, Gil Fuller, Tadd Dameron, Jimmy Heath, Mary Lou Williams, Thelonious Monk, and Lennie Tristano.  Featuring special guest soloist Ray Vega on trumpet.

About Ray Vega

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 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. Mr. Vega studied Afro-Caribbean percussion with Luis Bauzo. He attended The Long Island University Brooklyn Center and is a graduate of the renowned High School of Music and Art.

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. Mr. Vega was privileged to record three projects with that landmark group including the Grammy nominated Taboo and Contact. It was during his time with Barretto that RayVega was called upon to join the Tito Puente Latin Jazz Orchestra as lead trumpeter. Mr. Vega recorded with Puente’s Orchestra many times over the years including the Grammy winning Mambo Birdland, Dancemania ’99, and Obra Maestra.

About Kris Allen

Allen is the Lyell B. Clay Artist in Residence in Jazz and Lecturer in Music at Williams and the director of the Williams Jazz Ensemble. He has performed with many living legends of jazz music, including Illinois Jacquet, Gerald Wilson, Curtis Fuller, Andy Gonzales, and Curtis Fuller, as well as with modern stars such as Helen Sung, Winard Harper, Jeremy Pelt, Andy Laverne, the Mingus Dynasty, and Mario Pavone. He co-led the innovative Panamerican Trio with percussionist Rogerio Boccato and the late bassist Charles Flores. Allen has enjoyed a long-term musical association across several projects with the Curtis Brothers and has been a member of Kendick Oliver’s New Life Jazz Orchestra for over a decade. He can also be found frequently appearing in groups led by pianists Noah Baerman, Earl MacDonald, or his wife, Jen Allen. He serves as the Artistic Director of the Hartford Jazz Society New Directions Ensemble, and he is a founding member of the collaborative Jazz Samaritan Alliance. He has taught at Trinity College, the Hartt School, Southern Connecticut State University, and the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. He has been a senior teaching artist in the many educational programs of Litchfield Performing Arts since 2001.