The Buffalo News, Sept. 2009

Sensational. Almost as stunning a jazz orchestra disc as the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble’s “Eternal Interlude”. Where Hollenbeck’s disc is a sumptuous riot of color a la Maria Schneider and Gil Evans and Bob Brookmeyer, Owen and the Jazz Surge’s rendition of Michael Brecker’s compositions is in the jazz orchestra lineage of Quincy Jones and Oliver Nelson. It was certainly to be expected that a figure as ubiquitous and popular and prematurely lost a Michael Brecker would be memorialized by his friends. But who knew Brecker compositions like “Slings and Arrows” and, especially, “Itsbynne Reel” could be turned into orchestral pieces with this much artful wallop? It isn’t just that the disc includes, as soloists, Brecker’s trumpet-playing brother Randy, saxophonists Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, and Jack Wilkins, violinist Rob Thomas, vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, and guitarist Mike Stern. It’s that, among other things, Danny Gottlieb turns out to be such a stupendous large band drummer that he can swing 17 pieces into serious heat just with his brushes. One of the year’s great jazz discs. **** (of 4).

-Jeff Simon