Saturday, December 3, 2011

R.I.P.: Al Vega

Al Vega, Boston Jazz Pianist, Dies at 90
Associated Press, December 3, 2011

Al Vega, a longtime Boston musician who played with some of the finest jazz talents through a career that spanned 70 years, has died. He was 90.

Vega died Friday at Massachusetts General Hospital, hospital spokeswoman Kory Dodd said. No cause of death was given.

Vega, born Aram Vagramian in Worcester, Mass., was the house pianist at the Hi-Hat jazz club, and spent the late 1930s, 40s and 50s playing with some of the jazz greats, Boston radio personality Ron Della Chiesa told the Associated Press.

Della Chiesa said Vega teamed up with many jazz greats including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Count Basie and Duke Ellington and played many of the city's legendary jazz clubs. He later led his own trio and became a fixture at Lucky's Lounge, where he played Frank Sinatra tunes on Sunday nights.

"He was one of the most beloved musicians in the history of the city," Della Chiesa told the AP.

Vega played both the piano and the vibraphone, and had hundreds of recordings as a pianist and a backup artist.

Della Chiesa describes Vega as a legendary musician and teacher who launched a number of careers. He called him a friend to generations of Massachusetts politicians, including senators, congressmen, governors and mayors, regardless of their party affiliation.

Vega, a World War II veteran, was also a longtime Little League and Babe Ruth baseball coach in Everett, Mass., where a square was dedicated in his honor in October.

Vega was due to appear at Scullers Jazz Club in mid-January, and Della Chiesa said the event will go on as a memorial to his friend.

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