WUSF Jazz Director Bob Seymour featured an extensive conversation with Chuck Owen in debuting ‘River Runs’ on All Night Jazz, and prepared this piece for All Things Considered.
Click HERE to listen to the full, uncut interview that aired on WUSF's All Night Jazz.
Chuck Owen, Distinguished Professor of Jazz Studies at USF, has just released a new disc that was long in the making. "River Runs" is a five-movement concerto for jazz saxophone and guitar, performed by an orchestra of 60 musicians and featuring the solo work of USF’s Director of Jazz Studies Jack Wilkins and the school’s guitar instructor, La Rue Nickelson.
Released nationally by Summit Records, the concerto is already receiving considerable acclaim for its blending of jazz with classical and American folk/roots elements. Bassist and Guggenheim Fellow Rufus Reid has called it "a tour de force in contemporary orchestral composition."
A Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009 gave Owen the time and resources needed to compose the concerto, each movement of which depicts one or more rivers on which he has traveled. Originally composed for the two soloists and string orchestra, the piece was re-written over a period of several weeks to include the Jazz Surge, the big band Owen founded in 1995. While that band’s recordings have featured some of the world’s great jazz artists as guests, Owen chose to feature founding Surge members and fellow USF faculty as the soloists on the new concerto.