We had the good fortune of connecting with Ernesto Vega and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ernesto, what principle do you value most?

Honesty promotes openness, empowers us and enables us to develop consistency in how we present the facts. Honesty sharpens our perception and allows us to observe everything around us with clarity

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I was born in Holguin, Cuba on January 21 of 1981. From a very young age I had a very special connection with music, I remember since I was a kid I tried to play rhythms with any object, chairs, plates, pot lids or whatever else was available, although my parents were not musicians, they had a great taste for music from the Beatles, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Chucho Valdés & Irakere to Alberto Cortés and Juan Manuel Serrat, at the age of 10 I decided to audition for the art school in my city and although there was no availability to study percussion I luckily chose the Clarinet and that’s where my adventure in the world of music began, I had the good fortune to study with very good teachers, and that contributed to a solid musical training, also in those years my appreciation for Jazz and improvisation was starting to keep my attention, at the age of 14 I got the first prize and Grand Prize in the “Cucalambé” a contest where all the schools from the east of the country were participating , this helped me to continue my studies at the high school level without having to take entrance exams for music, that stage was very interesting and I felt that I could reach other goals if I dedicated much more time to my instrument and that I did, on the other hand the economic situation of the country was very complex, it was very difficult to have a good instrument and accessories, but that did not stop me from following my path, at the age of 15 I played at the Jazz Plaza festival in Havana, and I was able to play and share with a great of the genre such as the trumpeter Roy Hargrove, years later at the same festival I played a concert with the mythical Frank Emilio Flynn one of the piano legends in Cuba, coincidentally there was a journalist from the prestigious jazz magazine ”Down Beat” where he wrote an article praising the concert and he compared me to the great Artie Shaw, definitely that made me feel very happy and motivated, then I continue my studies at the Higher Institute of Art in Havana in 2001 and I started collaborating with Carlos Maza, a Chilean musician/ Composer based in Cuba, he had a contract with Universal record in France and I recorded my first two albums in Europe (France) as a sideman, later a series of Jazz Festivals in Switzerland would come with this project, it was a wonderful experience which I have many memories and my first steps on European stages, in 2003 I won the 1st prize in the National Jazz Contest “Jojazz” equivalent to the prestigious thelonious Monk competition here in the USA, and that marked a great leap in my career, it helped to promote my work even more, thanks to this after graduating from the University I was able to record my first personal CD “Venir al Mundo” which won the Cubadisco award (Cuban Grammy) as the best jazz album of the year in 2009, and then my work continued solidifying and I had many collaborations with dissimilar renowned artists of the Cuban scene such as: Bobby Carcasés, Ernán López Nussa, Changuito, Carlos Alfonzo & Síntesis group, Miriam Ramos, Jorge Reyes among others.. also I was part of the Yasek Manzano & Havana Jazz Collective project with which I recorded an excellent album I remember having recorded more than 30 albums collaborations in that period.
In 2012 I recorded a live DVD as a duo with the talented pianist Harold López Nussa at the Basilica of San Francisco de Asís, a concert that was nominated for the Cubadisco awards that year, at the end of that year I had the opportunity to come to the USA where I later decided to settle in Houston Texas until today, in 2017 I was invited as a soloist to record in New York on the album “Familia” together with the great Arturo O’farril and his Afro Latin jazz orchestra and the great pianist Chucho Valdés ,this Album won the Grammy Award and had many good critics.
I have had the opportunity to share with many internationally renowned artists here in Houston such as: Wynton Marsalis, Eric Marienthal, Conrad Herwig, Jeff Coffin, Vincent Gardner, Jon Faddis and many others. Currently I’m working as a Woodwind professor at the University of St. Thomas, I’m an Artist of the prestigious company (Selmer Paris), I also collaborated with Aperio Music of the Americas, I am a voting member of the Grammy academy and the American Federation of Musicians AFM.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well I really like the Fine Arts Museum, definitely the Hermann Park including the Miller Outdoor Theatre, Wortham Theatre, John Hall (Houston Symphony), the Minute Maid baseball stadium, NASA, Cezanne jazz club when it was open, Galveston island Moody Gardens , I don’t have any preference for restaurants in Houston but I played a gig at the Gypsy poet restaurant and I was very impressed with the pizza there

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Parents and my Family

Website: https://www.ernestovegamusic.com

Instagram: @ernestovegamusic

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ernesto-vega-4b357839

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vegaperez.ernestocamilo

Youtube: https://youtube.com/user/ernestovegajazz

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