"A recording with high-caliber vision and carefully crafted compositions…" Downbeat, 12/2023

"[As I Travel] is one of those collections that consistently engages you as it takes you on a musical journey of nine tunes, is full of interesting twists and turns. You will enjoy all of the stops that Vega makes as he travels." - Jersey Jazz, November 23, 2023, Vol. 51, Issue 10

"Vega is a luminary whose accolades are rivaled only by the scope of his vision." - Jazz24, December 2, 2023

"...Vega proves to be one of the most exciting pianists on the scene today." - BeBop Spoken Here, October 2023

"Vega’s As I Travel is beautifully rendered and emotionally uplifting. Even the pensive moments pass quickly as Vega consistently expresses positivity and gratitude." - Jim Hynes, Making a Scene, October 23, 2023

"Isabel - The Enchanting Nature of You comes across as graceful, rhapsodic, and downright embraceable." - Ed Enright, Downbeat, December 2023

Volume 90, Number 12

"Always and everywhere melody and harmony is held together by rippling, tumbling rhythms, clearly embedded in body and soul with which Mr Vega leans into his music." - Raul Da Gama, Latin Jazz Net, November 25, 2023

"Vega's piano dances with athletic precision and mesmerizing self-possession...a captivating musical memoir..." - Pierre Giroux, All About Jazz, November 7, 2023

"With the rapt intensity and idiomatic playing throughout, this music goes like the wind, with Mr. Vega’s contrasts in tone and colour turning each chorus of each song into a seductively habitable sound-world into which this prodigiously gifted musician bids us enter… and fall prey to its irresistible charms."  - Raul Da Gama, Latin Jazz Net, November 25, 2023

"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, Paris-Move, October 18, 2023 

"...a luminary pianist."  - Bass Magazine, October 6, 2023

"Vega’s voice shifted accents and inflection, speaking volumes on the subjects of structure and improvisation, alternating between whisper and exclamation." - Jake Cudek, Grateful Web, September 22, 2023


For Immediate Release 

Press Contact: Lydia Liebman Promotions

Celebrated pianist and composer Donald Vega elegantly crafts a sonic autobiography with As I Travel - an ode to the family and community that empowered him to make the physical and metaphorical journey to where he is today, is out October 27, 2023 via Imagery Records/Tiger Turn.

Acclaimed pianist and composer Donald Vega is a luminary whose accolades are rivaled only by the scope of his vision. From studying firsthand under jazz legends such as John Clayton, Billy Higgins, and Kenny Barron, being a staple member of the legendary Ron Carter Golden Striker Trio, and most recently being selected as a Guggenheim Fellow, Vega has had an impressive and wide-ranging career which has pushed him steadily into the upper echelons of the jazz landscape. A native of Nicaragua, Vega emigrated to the United States at age 14 and has been shaped powerfully by the people and experiences who have walked with him from his childhood through to the musician and person he is today. As I Travel, set to be Vega’s fourth album as a bandleader, is a programmatic, autobiographical suite of compositions inspired by his voyage - both geographically as an immigrant and intangibly as he has been molded through the lives of others. Featuring an all-star roster of Lewis Nash (drums), John Patitucci (bass), and Luisito Quintero (percussion), As I Travel highlights the interactive and interconnected nature of what it means to learn and grow as a human being. 

The story behind As I Travel began long before the album was even conceived as an idea. At age 14, Vega - led by his mother who had previously begun the process of moving to America to pave a way for her family - fled from the civil war in Nicaragua and emigrated to the United States. “This album is an American story,” Vega says. “The topic of immigration has been debated in the United States since its founding. No matter what side you land on, each immigrant’s story is unique, full of hope and often heartbreak.”

For his first couple years in America, Vega spoke little to no English and his primary form of cross-cultural communication was music. This multi-layered dependence and joyous release that Vega found in music led him to dig in to his passion for the discipline and art form even more, ultimately enabling him to study at the Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School. As his prowess in the craft developed, Vega began to recognize within himself a distinct ability to convey stories through music. Now, as an established musician and inimitable creative force in his own right, Vega seeks to tell his personal story - and in so doing, the stories of so many others - through music. “There are thousands of immigration stories just like mine that don’t get told,” Vega explains. “I’m fortunate enough to be able to share my story through music.”

The album’s title, and the title track from which its name stems, succinctly summarizes the unifying theme present throughout the album. The name As I Travel is a reference to the distinct physical distance from Nicaragua, to Los Angeles where Vega’s family settled, and finally to New York where Vega studied and settled on his own. Simultaneously, this title is a nod to Vega’s personal development of head and heart, with lessons learned through both seasons of wonder and tribulation. “Through moving countries and ultimately attending some of the best universities in the world, I learned a lot about myself, my character, and my passion for music,” Vega says. “Adversity also taught me to have compassion for those around me, the importance of hearing everyone’s story, and recognizing and celebrating their uniqueness.”

Musically, Vega puts storytelling at the forefront of his compositions. Whether through pleasing melodies or idyllic harmonies, Vega infuses his time on the bandstand into every note and rest he performs. More than mere pitch and rhythm, Vega carries with him the compassion and kindness carried from his wealth of varied experiences in each performance. “My music comes from a place of love… This album is a celebration of friends and family and all the experiences and memories that make us who we are,” Vega says. “I hope [listeners] feel all those things and bring that level of love and compassion back to their own families and lives. Wouldn’t that be great?”

As I Travel begins vibrantly with a track entitled “Baila! Dance Like No One’s Watching”. As the name suggests, the piece is a jubilant statement that reflects the culture and outlook of Vega’s homeland. “In Nicaragua, there is so much poverty, and yet the people are known for their joy,” Vega says. “They take time to celebrate every moment and ‘Dance Like No One’s Watching’.” As a father, Vega sees this same unconquerable spirit of happiness in his son, and this piece is equally dedicated to and inspired by his son and his homeland. The album continues with a retelling of one of Vega’s oldest and dearest compositions, “Tomorrows”. Originally the title track from his 2008 debut album, “Tomorrows” is a tale of hope and optimism for the future, inspired by the hope and optimism of his own story - even if sometimes the optimism is created in the embellishment. “The story gets told a lot that I came to this country at the age of 14 on the 4th of July. The truth is, I don’t recall the exact date or year,” Vega admits. “...but it’s a nice idea isn’t it? That America was celebrating another year at the same time I was crossing the border to start a new chapter in my life.” As the album nears its close, listeners are presented with a driving, beautiful work entitled “Dear Mayra,” Vega’s tribute to his mother. Vega’s mother was in many ways his beacon growing up. From paving the way to America for her family, to always ensuring Vega had everything he needed to pursue music, she is a steadfast, “positive force of nature” in the composer’s life. “You’ll notice there are many sections where this song does not let up,” Vega says. “It drives you forward no matter what - just like every mom does all over the world.”

An album with such a high-caliber vision requires a band of equal caliber to pull it off, and Vega assembled a perfect (and star-studded) cast for the task. As I Travel boasts the presence of Lewis Nash on drums, John Patitucci on bass, and Luisito Quintero on percussion. In addition to the wealth of experience and unparalleled accolades of such a crew, Vega specifically praises the band’s versatility. With a body of work that regularly and seamlessly flows between Latin and Swing idioms, such a level of musicianship and interconnected trust was a prerequisite for success. “[The band] 100% brought their experience and musicality to the table in the recording and As I Travel is better because of it,” says Vega.

With As I Travel, Vega presents an artistic statement that stands as a profound monument to the human spirit. Uniquely creative yet universally appealing, Vega blends with seemingly effortless command a myriad of traditions into a brilliantly unified whole that bespeaks a story worth telling and a tale worth hearing.

As I Travel releases on Imagery Records and Tiger Turn on October 27th, 2023


In celebration of the Jamaican jazz icon, Monty Alexander, pianist Donald Vega puts together a hard swinging compilation of Monty's great, early compositions. With Respect To Monty features an all-star lineup of Anthony Wilson (guitar), Hassan Shakur (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums)..." In celebration of the Jamaican jazz icon, Monty Alexander, pianist Donald Vega puts together a hard-swinging compilation of Monty's great, early compositions.

Since his debut on Resonance Records, Spiritual Nature (2012), Vega is entirely his own man,
completely in command of his material. As the late, great Mulgrew Miller's replacement in the Ron Carter Trio, Vega has big shoes to fill and does so admirably. His wide appreciation of piano maestros is spotlighted with this new release that includes seven original Monty Alexander masterpieces.
Much like Monty, Donald approaches the piano with technical prowess, yet with a sense of playfulness and light spirit. Both men share a warm touch to the instrument - melodic and free. The trio of Vega, Shakur and Nash have an intimate working relationship. Shakur's bass is a solid anchor, while Nash's colorful, rhythmic drumming is chameleon-like, adapting effortlessly to each piece. Add to that the imagination, depth and precision playing of guitar virtuoso Anthony Wilson - and you have a winning combination. From thoughtful, slow ballads to bouncy uptempo originals, they cover the bases. Vega smiles, “My heart is in the swing. No matter what style I play, the goal is always to make it feel good.”  Vega continues, “The way that Monty plays and writes seems to come from a place of what feels good to him too. At least in the tunes we selected, he likes the lighter, happier keys. There's room to breathe on solos. He's got an incredible imagination; great ears; great chops; and a killer left hand.”

Resonance Records President George Klabin explains, "The whole challenge was to find a pianist who was willing to do this project and who would fit the style of Monty's music. Monty, I just want to say you've touched my life. You've given me a great deal of happiness. I hope that this music will give back what you've given to the world."