Donald Vega – As I Travel (ENG review)

Imagery records – Street Date October 27th 2023
Donald Vega – As I Travel (ENG review)

Donald Vega is far from being an unknown figure. Having studied directly under jazz legends such as John Clayton, Billy Higgins, and Kenny Barron, being an integral part of the legendary Ron Carter Golden Striker Trio, and recently being selected as a Guggenheim fellow, Vega has had an impressive and diverse career that has consistently propelled him to the heights of the jazz landscape. Originally from Nicaragua, Vega immigrated to the United States at the age of 14 and was deeply influenced by the people and experiences that accompanied him from his childhood to becoming the musician and person he is today.
With this album, one is immediately immersed in highly structured jazz, and it must be said that the musicians featured on this album are all equally fascinating – Lewis Nash (drums), John Patitucci (bass), and Luisito Quintero (percussion). The story behind “As I Travel” began long before the album was conceived as an idea. At the age of 14, guided by his mother, who had already started the process of moving to America to pave the way for her family, Vega fled the civil war in Nicaragua and immigrated to the United States. “This album tells an American story,” says Vega. “The subject of immigration has been debated in the United States since its foundation. Regardless of where you stand, every immigrant’s story is unique, full of hope, and often sorrow.”
The strength of his story is found in this album, in the form of journeys, melodies that sometimes feel familiar, which are merely a reflection of this shared artistic consciousness that captures sounds from wherever they come and reinterprets them in different forms, on the fly, shaping a work of art. During his early years in America, Vega spoke little to no English, and his primary form of intercultural communication was through music. This multifaceted reliance and joyful liberation that Vega found in music pushed him to deepen his passion for the discipline and art, eventually allowing him to study at the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School.
Just by the titles of this album, you embark on a journey, even an invitation to travel. The richness of Vega’s music is that of every migrant in the land of the USA – the ability to overlay their own culture on an artistic quest that encompasses that of the host country. The same applies to all other forms of art for every artist who arrives here. This album is fascinating in all these aspects, thanks to Donald Vega’s rhythmic and melodic sensibility. It easily takes us to the end of this album, making it clear that if, like the editors of Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move, you appreciate spicy and well-structured jazz, you’ll understand why we consider it an “Essential.”

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, October 18th 2023


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