Pianist Donald Vega’s origins were in Sandinista-era Nicaragua, where he spent the first fourteen years of his journey. His mother then brought him to Los Angeles, where he would eventually meet drum icon Billy Higgins. Higgins nurtured Vega’s will to swing, to play jazz without a ‘Latin accent,’ turning him on to Bud Powell and Charlie Parker. In 2005 he began studies with pianist Kenny Barron at both the Manhattan School of Music and Julliard. More recently, he was the late Mulgrew Miller’s replacement in the Ron Carter Trio. For his third release for Resonance Records, “With Respect to Monty,” Vega celebrates the Jamaican jazz icon Monty Alexander with a hard-swinging compilation of Monty’s great, early compositions. His all-star quartet includes guitarist Anthony Wilson, drummer Lewis Nash and bassist Hassan Shakur.
Winner of the 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums competition, Jamison Ross is set to release his debut disc, “Jamison,” which not only showcases his prowess as a jazz musician who commands the drums, but also a gifted composer, arranger and, more pointedly, a singer. “When I won the Monk competition, no one there knew I could sing,” he says. “When I took the quest to record my first record, I was torn between my heart as a drummer and my heart as a singer. Ultimately, I was compelled to take a journey that incorporated my voice as part of my sound.” Infused with jazz, blues and genuine soul, the disc filters music from multiple sources through a contemporary approach, refreshing material by Muddy Waters, Eddie Harris and Les McCann and Carmen Lundy, while mixing in some of his own compositions.
Also this week, legendary guitarists Larry Carlton and David T. Walker share the stage for the first time “@ Billboard Live Tokyo”; guitarist and composer Kenny Carr, who spent ten years touring the world with Ray Charles, unveils his fourth CD as a leader, “Idle Talk,” collaborating with longtime friends Donny McCaslin on reeds, Kenny Wolleson on drums and Hans Glawischnig on bass; and the Jazz Professors, with special guest Michael Philip Mossman, perform music inspired by the art of French Impressionist Claude Monet with “En Plein Air.”