Home » Jazz Musicians » Jimmy Owens

Jimmy Owens

Jimmy Owens is an NEA Jazz Master

At three years of age, Jimmy loved to listen to Jazz. As he tells it, “I’d choose a 78 from my father’s Jazz collection and play it on the Victrola.

A particular favorite of mine was a picture record of Charlie Shavers performing “She’s Funny That Way” on one side and “Dizzy’s Dilemma” on the other side. Or I’d choose Duke Ellington’s “Stompy Jones” or “Tulip or Turnip.” Then my father would scoop me up in his arms and we’d dance! The best part, though, was seeing the reflection of me dancing with my daddy in the living room mirror. It was a great feeling.”

At fifteen, Donald Byrd, his mentor, arranged for Jimmy to audition for a place in the Newport Youth Band. The band was sponsored by the Newport Jazz Festival that was founded by George Wein, and its musical director was Marshall Brown, one of the first Jazz educators in America. Being invited to join the band was an important step in Jimmy’s musical development. He not only learned how to interpret and read music, it gave him an opportunity to perform music composed by many of the top Jazz arrangers. Other members of the band at this time were bassist Eddie Gomez, pianist Mike Abene, baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber and drummer and GRP Record Company founder Larry Rosen.

By the age of twenty-five, Jimmy had been a sideman with Lionel Hampton, Hank Crawford, Charles Mingus, Herbie Mann and Duke Ellington. As Jimmy continued to expand his musical horizons, he participated in different performing experiences, such as television, studio work and orchestral work. Between 1969 and 1972, he worked on the David Frost TV Show with Billy Taylor, the musical director. Also in 1969, he increased his European performances and education workshops throughout the world.

However, Jimmy was restless�"he wanted to start passing along what he had learned. Donald Byrd had instilled in him the importance of understanding the concepts of education and having knowledge of the business of music. Jimmy wanted to incorporate these concepts, together with his own musical experience and knowledge, to teach students how to become successful musicians. As he tells it, “it’s not only about playing music, it’s about knowing how to market oneself for performances and how to put together a group that is able to communicate with the audience. It all adds up to one’s total musicianship, and there’s a lot of work behind that.”

Read more

Tags

4
Liner Notes

Heiner Stadler: Brains on Fire

Read "Heiner Stadler: Brains on Fire" reviewed by Howard Mandel


Brains on Fire fuels reflection on the past and response in the present. These eight extraordinary extended tracks, recorded in unusual conjunctions of master jazz improvisers instigated by composer/pianist Heiner Stadler for sessions held from 1966 through 1974, are alive with the passions of that era celebrating large, original works stretching the bounds of even the most ambitious music come before. As Stadler and his cadre of fully collaborative, creative interpreters brought immense smarts, skills and sensibilities besides ...

Album Review

Heiner Stadler: Brains on Fire

Read "Brains on Fire" reviewed by AAJ Italy Staff


Heiner Stadler è nome pressoché sconosciuto se non agli addetti ai lavori o a qualche curioso appassionato jazzofilo. Nasce nel 1942 a Lessen in Polonia, cresce ad Amburgo dove studia pianoforte, armonia e composizione al conservatorio, per poi trasferirsi nel 1965 a New York. Qui intesse una serie di relazioni con importanti musicisti dal background assai variegato (si va sa Benny Golson a Barre Phillips, da Joe Chambers a John Gilmore e Joe Farrell, da Dee Dee Bridgewater a Thad ...

55
Album Review

Jimmy Owens: The Monk Project

Read "The Monk Project" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian


Who better to pay homage to one of the musical geniuses of the 20th century than seven of today's most idiosyncratic artists? The septet is lead by Jimmy Owens, who is known for his versatility in settings as diverse as swing bands and avant-garde ensembles; most notably, for this undertaking, he organized a concert of Thelonious Monk music at Carnegie Hall in 1974 that featured the legendary pianist himself. Although The Monk Project features nine of the ...

64
Extended Analysis

Heiner Stadler: Brains on Fire

Read "Heiner Stadler: Brains on Fire" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian


Heiner StadlerBrains on FireLabor Records2012One of the most exciting reissues of the first quarter of 2012 is composer and pianist Heiner Stadler's pioneering Brains on Fire, originally released in 1973. The two-CD reissue adds three lengthy, previously unreleased tracks and informative and well-researched liner notes by critic Howard Mandel. Interestingly, Stadler occupies the piano chair only on five of the eight pieces, recorded over a seven-year span in a ...

92
New York Beat

Jimmy Owens and the Monk Evolution

Read "Jimmy Owens and the Monk Evolution" reviewed by Nick Catalano


When an artist comes along who convolutes traditional form, it sometimes takes eons for that artist's contribution to be understood, evaluated and finally appreciated. Initially, composer Igor Stravinsky was thrown out of Paris at the premier of “Le Sacre du Printemps," author James Joyce was banned in Boston for Ulysses," and composer John Cage ridiculed for his performance of “4'33." The list of convoluters is a long one. In the 1940s, pianist Thelonious Monk finally settled on ...

84
Album Review

Jimmy Owens: The Monk Project

Read "The Monk Project" reviewed by Mark Corroto


Jimmy Owens' tribute to the indomitable music of Thelonious Monk is a luxurious road trip that travels on smooth roads once precarious and quite perilous. His septet, an experienced large/small ensemble, glides almost effortlessly through the opulence of this music.The ease in which these musicians maneuver through the nine Monk compositions, plus Duke Ellington's “It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," is a testament to their talents, but more so to Owens' deft arrangements. ...

100
Album Review

Jimmy Owens: The Monk Project

Read "The Monk Project" reviewed by Edward Blanco


With a career spanning over 45 years, legendary trumpeter Jimmy Owens has had the privilege of performing with many giants of jazz, including trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, pianist Billy Taylor, bassist Charles Mingus, drummer Max Roach and the incomparable pianist Duke Ellington. Though he never had the opportunity to record with pianist Thelonious Monk, he did know and admire him, and has played the icon's music throughout his career. The Monk Project is Owen's tribute to a special man and his ...

Read more articles
Kim A. Clarke
bass, acoustic

Photos

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

The Monk Project

IPO Recordings
2012

buy

Brains on Fire

Labor Records
2012

buy

The Monk Project

IPO Recordings
2011

buy

Peaceful Walking

Jay-Oh Jazz
2007

buy

Headin' Home

HighNote
1978

buy

Caravan

HighNote
1976

buy

Similar

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.