Reviews & Testimonials


Within Us

"Excellent writing, splendid musicianship, and memorable solos . . . Within Us is a gem.Richard Kamins, Step Tempest

"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.Be-bop Spoken Here

"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

". . . a joy and an inspiration, hands-down one of the top ten jazz albums of the yeardelarue, NY Music Daily / Lucid Culture

". . . a set of compositions that are as personal, eclectic, and ambitious as anything that Owen has penned.Phillip Booth, Jazz Times

Whispers on the Wind

Click here to learn more about this recording.

  • Chuck Owen – Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
  • Chuck Owen – Best Instrumental Composition (Warped Cowboy)
  • Chuck Owen – Best Instrumental Arrangement (All Hat, No Saddle)
  • Sarah Caswell – Best Improvised Jazz Solo (Can’t Remember Why)

"creative, poetic . . . . . wildly personal"    " . . . an adventure communing with a primal and mysterious America."
Buffalo News, Jeff Simon, 2017


"So when will this big band ace win the Grammy already?"   " . . . . . grand sweeping set. . . . . . Killer stuff!" ...more
Midwest Record Reviews, Chris Spector, 2017


“aural imageries abound.” ...more
Jazz Notes, Ken Frankling, 2017


Jazz Album of the Week 
Soul and, 2017


"Owen writes with seductive rhythms in mind and sets aside ample room for earnest blowing by a number of splendid soloists.  Grammy voters, have your pens and pencils ready - again."
All About Jazz, Jack Bowers, 2017


"Humble, yet grandiose."  "He opens up the music to the rafters . . . . . . as yearning becomes these tremendous bursts of dynamic drama, form, and splendor."  "Reality on a sizzling hot silver platter.", Carol Banks Weber, 2017


“a most rewarding CD . . . . unstinting praise for its passion, depth and generosity of vision.”
Audiophile Audition, Fritz Balwit, 2017

Chuck Owen has composed something that crosses jazz genres from straight-ahead to contemporary; from folk to funk. He is a painter with sound.”
Musical Memoirs, Dee Dee McNeil, 2017


“. . . an impressive melding of Montana and 52nd St.”
Ringer of the Week
Jazz Weekly, George Harris, Nov. 23, 2017


“. . . episodic, dramatic and picturesque.  Owen deserves to be ranked high among today’s composers/arrangers.”
NY City Jazz Record, Scott Yanow, 2017


Owen works up to fantastic crescendos, melodic frenzies, and an impossibly winsome combination of slow burn with spontaneous combustion on elaborate, tight tracks inspired from his childhood in the Heartland.”, Carol Banks Weber, Nov. 2017


River Runs

“Chuck Owen's RIVER RUNS, is a tour de force in contemporary orchestral composition that conveys his musical ideas with immense dynamic clarity.  This exquisitely produced recording defies categorization, as it is a synthesis of musical concepts woven into a luscious tapestry that intrigues and satisfies.  BRAVO!”...Rufus Reid
“Copland-esque in scope, . . . . Chuck Owen has created an incredibly colorful portrait. This concerto is on a grand scale with the solo voices of Jack Wilkins (tenor sax) and LaRue Nickelson (guitar) soaring throughout. The music is visceral…you can feel the power and majesty.”...Dave Liebman
“River Runs deep, free-flowing into cross-currents, but always moving forward towards it's destination, which is an Ocean of Melody, Sound and Soul.”...Randy Brecker
“Pure joyful sounds. Harmony that lives up to the word. Jazz has never sounded better.”...Bob Belden

Chuck Owen – Best Instrumental Composition (Bound Away)
Chuck Owen – Best Instrumental Arrangement (Side Hikes – A Ridge Away)


"Mr. Owen has created a masterpiece of aural sounds; a dazzling array of prismatic colors and textures that envelop the listener in a splendidly evocative way"...more
Huffington Post, Ralph Miriello, July 2013


"...far more than mere musical portraiture, it’s as if Owen has captured an entire ecosystem with its messy, sometimes awe-inspiring, sometimes opaque, frequently frightening detail. Like water, Owen’s music will go everywhere it can: his colors are amazingly diverse. Outside of western swing, is there another big jazz group that uses a dobro? That’s just one example of how imaginative, paradigm-shifting and often exhilarating this album is, combining elements as diverse as swing, heavy metal, bluegrass and the avant garde and making them work together seamlessly.” …more
NY Music Daily, Alan Young


"River Runs is a remarkable piece of work, full of contrast and specific tone-painting, integrating jazz and classical elements with a sure hand and greater respect for both than has sometimes been the case in such hybrids"...more
Fanfare Magazine, Phillip Scott, Sept/Oct, 2013


"sparkling orchestral writing. With a mix of technical complexity and pop brightness that is irresistible, like a New Orleans gumbo of Stravinsky and funk"...more
Tampa Bay Times, John Fleming, April 2013


"The explosive Chuck Owen & the Jazz Surge serves up an orchestrated work of art, taking the listener on a musical journey from tranquil to explosive . . . . . EPIC!"
World Jazz News

The Comet's Tail

The Comet's Tail

The Comet’s Tail is incredible, fantastic, and a true masterpiece of music.  There simply are not enough superlatives to describe it.  Mike Stern’s guitar work is masterful, . . . .Rob Thomas’ violin work at times evokes both Ponty and Grapelli.  Not only one of the better big band recordings I have ever heard but one of the best recordings I have ever heard . . . .ever.”...Blues Alley, Washington, DC, Harry Schnipper, Exec. Director, Oct. 2009

“I just finished listening to ‘The Comet’s Tail’, The Jazz Surge’s brilliant tribute to Michael Brecker. Throughout my 27 years at WBGO, quite a few “tribute” records have come across my desk.  ‘Comet’s Tail’ is certainly one of the finest, capturing the spirit, passion, brilliance and magnificent compositions we all enjoyed through Michael’s genius!”...WBGO, Gary Walker, Aug. 2009


“. . . .larger than life versions . . . . . spectacularly expanded and explosively played . . . . . . .fabulously tailored and opulent far beyond anything that might be construed as conventional.  A truly outstanding recording and a collection of works deserving of universal attention”....more
All Music Guide, Michael G. Nastos, Oct. 2009

JazzTimes [Converted]

“ . . . riotous and joyous. While the individual solos are quite impressive, it is the ensemble playing and spirit of the full ensemble that really stands out"....more
JazzTimes, Scott Yanow, Oct. 2009


“Excellent throughout …... Owen’s rapturous setting of 'How Long ‘Til the Sun,' rendered with the bold luster of an island sunset”....more
Downbeat Magazine, Jan. 2010

CD cover shell key 5

Here We Are

". . . . . .an imaginatively conceived exploration of the landscape of large jazz ensemble music. Perhaps going that extra mile to demonstrate that cliché free ensemble writing enhanced by imaginative soloing by kindred spirits can produce an emotional entity that will thrill, excite, and expand your perception of the big band"….more
Mainly Big Bands (U.K.), Dec. 2004



“. . . .ambitious, forward-thinking compositions.”... Downbeat, Philip Booth, Jan. 2002

“Owen knows all about hijinks, mayhem, and fun. Madcap consists of . . .knockouts.” ...St. Petersburg Times, Gina Vivinetto, May 2001

“Owen never loses his lyrical sense . . . .it never stops swinging!”...Mainly Big Bands, J.R. Killoch, Feb. 2001

Chuck Owen & The Jazz Surge

Chuck Owen & The Jazz Surge

One of the top 5 CDs of 1996!...Jazz Times, David Franklin

“Owen paints with intriguing hues . . . . refreshes with lyrical lines and hues . . . . (and) is suffused with some of the tastiest contemporary sounds around.”...Jazz Educators Journal, Herb Wong, Sept. 1996


Jazz Masterworks Series with Chick Corea

Chick Corea performing with the Jazz Surge
Chick Corea performing with the Jazz Surge

“One of the Top 5 Concerts (any genre) in Orlando in 2007. (Chick) Corea’s performance with the big band was a free-wheeling combination of the pianist’s fleet-fingered solos and the band’s mood and muscle.” ...Orlando Sentinel, Dec. 2007