Saturday, August 18, 2018
  • Soundcheck

USF jazz professor Chuck Owen snags 4 Grammy nominations for new album

Bruno Mars had to pinch himself. Luis Fonsi started freaking out. Khalid was in a state of shock.

As artists reacted across social media to the 2018 Grammy nominations, Chuck Owen was at a car place in Tampa, sifting through an onslaught of texts, calls and emails while waiting on a tune-up.

"I'm trying to start going through this stuff, and the service manager's coming out, going, 'Look at this air filter, will you?'" Owen laughed. "I'm like, 'Man, just change the air filter!'"

Owen, the Distinguished University Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of South Florida, found himself overwhelmed by congratulatory messages after his own whopping Grammy haul on Tuesday — four nominations for Whispers on the Wind, his latest album with his band the Jazz Surge.

"I've learned not to have much in the way of expectations when it come to this, because it's just so hard at times to handicap," said Owen, who had previously been nominated twice in 2014. "I was astounded to see that we got four nominations for the project. That was far beyond my hopes. You always have hopes, but that was a stretch."

Whispers on the Wind's windfall included three nominations for Owen himself — more than Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters or Miranda Lambert — and another went to violinist Sara Caswell in the category of Best Improvised Jazz Solo. In addition to his nod for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, Owen was also nominated for Best Instrumental Composition (Warped Cowboy) and Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella (All Hat, No Saddle).

These categories might not be televised, but even casual music fans know some of the legends who've won them in the past — John Williams, Chick Corea, Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini, even the occasional pop artist like Elton John, Randy Newman or Burt Bacharach.

Recorded in Tampa at the former Morrisound Studios and featuring a host of local musicians, Whispers on the Wind is a complex work about "local color and a sense of loss" that blends big-band jazz and more traditional roots and folk instrumentation — acoustic guitar, dobro, harmonica, hammer dulcimer. It was influenced in part by the works of writers like Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry, and you can hear it in the finished product.

"I've had a lot of people say, for a lot of the album, it doesn't sound like a big band, and then all of a sudden, it's a big band," Owen said.

Owen was twice nominated in 2014 for compositions from his album River Runs. Before that, a song from his 2009 album The Comet's Tail received a nomination for its arranger, Vince Mendoza — who is up against Owen in two categories this year.

"Vince is always nominated," Owen said. "And he's an absolutely wonderful composer and arranger and a great guy. I won't be rooting for him, but if he should beat me, it would go to a wonderful composer."

Owen has a lot of plans to make between now and the Grammys, which take place Jan. 28 at Madison Square Garden in New York. There will be receptions, parties, red carpets and tickets to wrangle for family and friends — and his label might ramp up its Grammy "for your consideration" ad campaign.

"I would say I won't lose any sleep over it, because there's not much you can do about it," he said. "It's out there, and people will vote how they want to vote. It's kind of done."

As honored as he was for each nomination, when he called his Jazz Surge players to relay the news this morning, he joked that he hoped the Grammy love might bring them something even better.

"Maybe now," he said, "we'll get a local gig."

— Jay Cridlin

Comments
Review: Journey, Def Leppard defy Father Time, thrill 17,500 fans at Amalie Arena in Tampa

Review: Journey, Def Leppard defy Father Time, thrill 17,500 fans at Amalie Arena in Tampa

The inevitable question a double bill like Def Leppard and Journey begs is this: Which of the two classic rock hit machines, both well into their 50s and 60s, still rocks the hardest? Stick around, we'll get there in a minute.First, though, can we ta...
Updated: 1 hour ago
SoundBytes: Tanya Tucker, Joe Diffie, Young Nudy and more

SoundBytes: Tanya Tucker, Joe Diffie, Young Nudy and more

— The always-intriguing concert calendar at Stockyard Live in Holiday has added a couple of more country veterans to the mix: Tanya Tucker on Nov. 9 ($25 and up, click here) and Joe Diffie on Nov. 10 ($18 and up, click here).— Up-and-comi...
Published: 08/17/18
Travis Scott coming to Tampa

Travis Scott coming to Tampa

Travis Scott is the man of the moment right now in hip-hop, with his latest album, the hugely anticipated Astroworld, sitting at No. 1 in the nation.Now he's about to take Astroworld on the road. And his tour will include Tampa.Scott announced cities...
Published: 08/16/18
Review: Taylor Swift lights up Tampa with majestic, open-hearted concert at Raymond James Stadium

Review: Taylor Swift lights up Tampa with majestic, open-hearted concert at Raymond James Stadium

The world's biggest pop star sat alone at a piano in Tampa, looking for the first time in a long time like she wasn't quite sure what to say."This exact day a year ago, I was not playing a sold-out stadium in Tampa," Taylor Swift told the crowd of mo...
Published: 08/15/18
SoundBytes: Hoobastank, PrettyMuch, Kevin Gates, Every Time I Die and more

SoundBytes: Hoobastank, PrettyMuch, Kevin Gates, Every Time I Die and more

— Hoobastank is coming to the Capitol Theatre. The show is scheduled for Nov. 19, with Secondhand Serenade opening. Tickets are $29 and up. Click here.— Boy band PrettyMuch is coming to the Ritz Ybor on Oct. 28. Tickets go on sale this we...
Published: 08/14/18
Highly Suspect postpone concert at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

Highly Suspect postpone concert at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

Highly Suspect's upcoming concert at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg was one of our must-see shows of this fall.We'll have to wait a little longer to see it.The Grammy-nominated rockers have postponed their Oct. 29 show in the courtyard, according to t...
Published: 08/14/18
Rick Springfield postpones ‘Best In Show’ concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Rick Springfield postpones ‘Best In Show’ concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Bad news for Rick Springfield fans: The Jessie's Girl heartthrob is postponing his concert this month at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.Even worse news for the Fixx fans: They're no longer on the bill.Springfield's Best In Show Tour, which was to fea...
Published: 08/14/18
Lindsey Buckingham coming to the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater

Lindsey Buckingham coming to the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater

As you've probably heard, Fleetwood Mac fired Lindsey Buckingham. He won't be part of their next tour, which will come to Tampa in February with Mike Campbell and Neil Finn filling his shoes.But if you're still hankering for some hot Big Love action,...
Published: 08/14/18
SoundBytes: Michael Bolton, Dire Straits, Patti LaBelle, (Sandy) Alex G and more

SoundBytes: Michael Bolton, Dire Straits, Patti LaBelle, (Sandy) Alex G and more

— It's not quite Valentine's Day, but it'll be close enough when Michael Bolton returns to the Capitol Theatre on Feb. 15. Tickets are $80 and up. Click here.— A couple of Texas legends, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen, are teaming up fo...
Published: 08/13/18
For King and Country bringing holiday tour to Amalie Arena in Tampa

For King and Country bringing holiday tour to Amalie Arena in Tampa

Another big holiday show is headed our way.Smash Christian duo For King and Country is bringing their 2018 Christmas tour to Amalie Arena in Tampa on Dec. 14. Zach Williams will open the show. Tickets are $25.50 and up. Click here for details.The Gra...
Published: 08/13/18