“Renderings” – Chuck’s anticipated first album with the WDR Big Band was released by Summit/MAMA in July of 2023! The project, interrupted and delayed by Covid, was recorded in two separate sessions in July of 2019 & May 2021 and shines a spotlight on Chuck’s highly creative approach to original arrangements. Sara Caswell, violinist from the Surge, is featured as a guest soloist on a couple of the charts.
Chuck joined NEA Jazz Master, Terri Lyne Carrington and the WDR Big Band for a series of concerts and recording in Germany. He arranged and conducted all the works which also featured vocalist, Melanie Charles. Concert video currently available for viewing: https://fb.watch/kfzq6xCVcA/ Although there is no projected release date, an album was also recorded. Stay tuned!!
On Sept. 17th, the Jazz Surge released it’s 7th album in tandem with celebrating its 25th anniversary. Recorded in May of 2021 while just emerging from the isolation of Covid, “Within Us” (Summit/MAMA Records) has been greeted with wide-spread accolades:
“It kills—brimming with a vivid array of colors (including violin and dobro) and shifting dynamics. . . . . at once challenging and eminently listenable, . . . .a seamless stream of grabby melodies and solos.” Eric Snider, Creative Loafing
“Chuck Owen is a master in delineating rhythmically and timbrically compelling arrangements, where the orchestral dynamics leave continuous spaces for the relationship with the soloists.” Angelo Leonardi, All About Jazz, Italia
“Nothing, not even a pandemic that silenced and stupefied most artists into submission, could tamp down Owen and his ensemble’s cinematic majesty. If you listen closely, you can hear Chuck Owen’s heart and soul.” Carol Banks Weber, Festival Peak
“If you love big bands then this is for you. If you don’t love big bands then this is even more so for you.” Lance, Be-bop Spoken Here
“The gold standard for their silver anniversary.” George Harris, Jazz Weekly
“Within Us” is a gem.” Richard Kamins, Step Tempest
“Owen is revealed as one who well versed in both jazz and classical modes producing music of considerable finesse, rich in detail and harmonic sophistication, at turns powerfully exultant, sharp, incisive and evocatively elegiac in both the articulation of his themes and in support of the soloists. . . . . . . an heir to Ellington and Gil Evans.” Euan Dixon, Jazz Views
It’s DONE!! In their 1st recording since the twice Grammy nominated “River Runs”, the Jazz Surge, having shed the orchestral trappings characterizing the prior ambitious work, would appear to have returned to a more standard jazz big band outing. “Whispers”, however, is anything but standard big band fare!!
This project expands upon Owen’s interest in American folk and roots music – leaning heavily on the evocative violin of Sara Caswell, the luminescent harmonica of Gregoire Maret, an array of acoustic guitars deftly played by Corey Christiansen, and even the occasional burst of color from the accordion and hammered dulcimer played by Owen himself. Randy Brecker, last appearing with the Surge on “A Comet’s Tail”, returns with a blistering solo on “Into the Blue” as well as a rollicking turn on “Gunslingers” – a somewhat otherwordly, Blakey-esque minor blues.
As with River Runs, “Whispers” was conceived loosely as a single entity – a suite of 7 pieces linked by a somewhat ethereal vision and examination of the American tradition & lifestyle. . . . . . . its values, landmarks, folklore, heroes, and myths. Associating quotes from authors Stephen King, Larry McMurtry, and Cormac McCarthy. Owen’s music displays a clear affinity for the local color, wry sense of humor, unique personalities, strong sense of place, and disarmingly unsentimental honesty these authors are noted for.
See the online Store for opportunities to pre-order and get an mp3 track of “Warped Cowboy” delivered IMMEDIATELY!!
An incredibly enthusiastic response greeted the Jazz Surge’s debut of many of the works from its new recording project in front of an audience filled with prominent jazz composers – including NEA Jazz Master, Chick Corea. Guesting with the band were Randy Brecker and Gregoire Maret who will also be featured on the upcoming recording.