Jazziz Magazine, Summer 2013

As stated in a previous JAZZIZ on Disc item, music can powerfully convey a sense of place.  Composer Chuck Owen provides an entire travelogue on his latest release, River Runs: A Concerto for Jazz Guitar, Saxophone, & Orchestra (Summit/MAMA), as he takes inspiration from rivers he has known.  A self-professed “river rat”, Owen has paddled some of America’s most scenic waterways in canoes, kayaks, and rafts, the experiences lingering long after his shoes and clothes have dried.  Through five sweeping movements, he affectionately delivers his impressions in rich, colorful musical tributes to the Greenbrier and New Rivers, In Virginia; the Chattooga in Georgia and South Carolina; the Green and Colorado in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona; the Salmon in Idaho and the Hillsborough in Florida, the state where he resides.  Tenor saxophonist Jack Wilkins, guitarist LaRue Nickelson and violinist Rob Thomas are the primary soloists on the various pieces, which combine the talents of Owen’s Jazz Surge band with a magnificent orchestra.  On “Movement IV: Side Hikes – A Ridge Away,” Owen evokes the experience of leaving his water craft and exploring the landscape on foot, which provides new perspective and what we can only imagine are some breathtaking views.