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Artist of the day: Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge



Chuck Owen had a big year in 2009. The University of South Florida distinguished professor of jazz studies became the only university professor in the state to win a prestigious Guggenheim fellowship.

Not only that, the USF Center for Jazz Composition, where he is the founding director, released its first CD: The Comet’s Tail: Performing the Compositions of Michael Brecker.

Now a song from that CD is up for a Grammy award for best instrumental arrangement, setting the stage for another big year.

The CD features Chuck Owen & The Jazz Surge playing the music of one of the most influential musicians in jazz since the 1960s, according to his New York Times obituary. Brecker, a saxophonist  and Grammy award winner, died in January 2007 at the age of 57.

For the project, Owen commissioned Vince Mendoza, who had worked with Brecker, to pick out and arrange a song. The song he chose, Slings and Arrows, features solos by USF jazz studies director Jack Wilkins on tenor sax, as well as two other regular members of the Jazz Surge: Danny Gottlieb on drums and LaRue Nicholson, an adjunct USF instructor, on guitar.

It’s a hard-driving arrangement, but one that leaves plenty of room for solo improvisation. “That’s always a pretty heady combination in jazz,” Owen said.

Grammy winners will be announced Sunday. And even if the song doesn’t win, Owen, 55, of Temple Terrace has a full year planned. The Guggenheim will enable him take a yearlong sabbatical starting this month to write a double concerto for saxophone, guitar and orchestra.

-- Richard Danielson, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:16pm]


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