Donald Vega: Nostalgia




Donald Vega (piano)


Tomorrows (Imagery Records)

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Donald Vega (piano), David J. Grossman (bass), Lewis Nash (drums).

Composed by Donald Vega


Recorded: Brooklyn, NY


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

It was not until after I listened to pianist Donald Vega's "Nostalgia" that I received an email from his publicist suggesting I read Vega's biography, which tells the story of a young Nicaraguan child whose family was torn apart by civil war and who was also afflicted with a disfiguring medical condition since birth. Eventually he was smuggled into the United States and fought many court battles to remain. His musical talent was noticed and rewarded by the Los Angeles jazz community. They came to his side in his battle to stay in the country as a political refugee. Ultimately the final determination was in the hands of a judge. According to the bio, the judge asked Vega if he liked John Coltrane. Vega answered in the affirmative and was granted asylum! The jazz community went even farther, as philanthropist and jazz fan Helen Bing paid for the necessary operations to ameliorate Vega's disfigurement. Other jazz fans and musicians were also quite generous. Vega found religion and spent time recovering from the many surgeries that were required. He didn't play jazz for a decade. But he rediscovered it in 2004, and earned two Masters Degrees in music. Now he has released his first album. Tell me this story of tragedy, humanity and rebirth wouldn't make a great jazz movie.

It turns out I really didn't need to read Vega's biography to know his story. I learned everything about him the first time I listened to "Nostalgia." It's all there in each beautiful note and well-placed accent. The song has true moments of melancholy, retrospection and hope. It is played by three expert musicians who know what evocation is all about. Vega has a special gift for telling a story through music. That can really come in handy when you've led the life he has and you can play the piano the way he does. With any luck the future chapters of his biography will all be about the wonderful music he is bringing to our ears.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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