Chuck Owen

The recipient of five individual GRAMMY nominations as well as a prestigious 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship, Chuck Owen’s compositions have been performed throughout the world; by the Netherlands’ Metropole Orch., WDR Big Band, Brussels Jazz Orch., Aarhus Big Band, Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orch., Tonight Show Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, and numerous others.

However, since 1995, Owen’s primary creative outlet has been his own 19-piece Jazz Surge.  Serving as conductor as well as primary composer/arranger, he has produced each of the Surge’s 7 highly feted CDs.  Whispers On the Wind, released in 2017, was recognized with 4 GRAMMY Nominations (including for best composition) while also named #1 Big Band Album in the annual Jazz Station Awards.  River Runs (2013), a stunning 5-movement genre-bending orchestral/big band hybrid and The Comet’s Tail (2009) also received GRAMMY nominations. Their most recent (2021) recording Within Us was released to widespread acclaim, named on several prominent jazz critics’ “Best of 2021” Awards, and celebrated with a sold-out performance at New York’s Birdland Jazz Club

In 2013, Owen and the Jazz Surge shifted gears dramatically, releasing River Runs, A Concerto for Jazz Guitar, Saxophone, & Orchestra – a 5-movement, hour-long, genre-bending composition that draws its inspiration from various American Rivers, . . . . and, specifically, Owen’s float trips down them.  Composed under the auspices of a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, it was recognized with two GRAMMY nominations (Best Instrumental Composition & Best Instrumental Arrangement) – the work soaring majestically through a unique blend of large-scale symphonic forces, propulsive jazz rhythms, evocative solos, and tinges of American folk/roots music (Owen at one point referencing – and thoroughly deconstructing- the well-known “Shenandoah”).

It was hard to imagine how Chuck and the Surge would follow the critical success of “River Runs”, yet 2017’s Whispers On the Wind did so quite admirably garnering 4 GRAMMY nominations (Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, Best Soloist, Best Instrumental Composition, & Best Instrumental Arrangement).

Throughout the years, the Surge has performed at a wide range of festivals, conferences, and clubs; serving as the resident orchestra for Central Florida’s Jazz Masterworks Series as well as the International Jazz Composer’s Symposium.  These events, produced by Owen (originally in conjunction with the USF Center for Jazz Composition (CJC) and, more recently, via the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers (ISJAC)), resulted in a steady stream of performances with noted jazz composers such as: Bob Brookmeyer, Chick Corea, Frank Foster, Slide Hampton, Bill Holman, Jim McNeely, Bob Mintzer, and Gerald Wilson along with many others.

Owen recently re-launched “ReSurgence”, a sextet derived primarily from the members of the big band.  The group (in which Owen has returned to playing piano publicly) offers a new canvas for his musical landscapes and is expected to lead to the release of their first recording in later 2023 or 2024.

Throughout his career, Owen has undertaken a diverse body of commissions and projects.  In addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship, Owen has been the recipient of the prestigious 2000 IAJE/ASCAP commission in honor of Louis Armstrong and three Florida Artist Fellowships.  He has over 100 works published and is a frequent guest artist, clinician, and lecturer at universities throughout the country.