Ray Vega pays tribute to 13 fellow trumpeters on Boperation, offering Latin jazz interpretations of songs that were, in most cases, written by the trumpeters themselves. All of the trumpeters that Vega salutes became well known after World War II and made their mark playing bop, cool, or post-bop; the Puerto Rican New Yorker doesn't embrace anything by pre-bop icons like Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, and Harry James, but, rather, turns his attention to the works of post-swing improvisers ranging from Dizzy Gillespie, Art Farmer, and the Fats Navarro/Howard McGhee team to Clifford Brown and his admirers, including Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, and Donald Byrd. Although Vega is very much a hard bopper, he acknowledges the Cool School with a Miles Davis medley that includes "Blue in Green" and "Four" (a gem that, according to many jazz experts, was actually written by Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, although Davis was given credit) and a lyrical version of "Tangerine" that was inspired by Chet Baker. Vega should be applauded for recognizing Baker's greatness; too many "Young Lions" of the 1980s and 1990s have failed to realize just how captivating he could be. Some jazz fans may complain about the fact that Vega doesn't salute either pre-bop or avant-garde trumpeters, but then, he never said that Boperation was meant to tell the entire history of jazz trumpet, flügelhorn, and cornet playing. If everyone from Bunny Berigan, Charlie Shavers, and King Oliver to Don Cherry, Lester Bowie, and Hannibal Peterson were also included, Vega would have needed to record several CDs instead of simply one. Vega deserves credit for making Boperation a concept album that is pleasing, if less than essential.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson