Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge: Within Us


Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge: Within Us


Sign in to view read count
Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge: Within Us
Florida's Chuck Owen has been a jazz educator for over 40 years, led his big band, The Jazz Surge, for 25 years and earned seven Grammy nominations along the way, so he cannot be called an unknown. Still, it seems that he is nowhere as well known as he should be, going by the quality of the music on this CD which celebrates The Jazz Surge's 25th anniversary.

The band's music has some of the brassy punch of conventional big band jazz but uses it with a lighter, more flexible approach. It has a cinematic sweep with layers of brass and reeds creating evocative pictures with Sara Caswell's violin a featured instrument throughout. That shows in "Time of the Ancients," as she leads the entire group's busy Pat Metheny-like traveling motion, as well as taking a careening folk-flavored solo alongside LaRue Nickerson's drawling slide guitar. The swooning emotion of her playing powers the elastic buoyancy of "Sparks Fly" and sets the mood on the dramatic "Apalachicola," a brooding lament about the state of the environment which also features low, bluesy cries from the horns, flinty blues guitar from Corey Christiansen and measured floating drum beats by Danny Gottlieb.

Other members of the ensemble step into the spotlight elsewhere. "American Noir" is an expansive piece of late-night brooding which spotlights Jerald Shynette 's trombone and Tami Danielsson's lonely alto sax. A version of Miles Davis' "Milestones" pops with quick-firing sass and is anchored by a baritone sax line from Matt Vance, straight out of Charles Mingus. The graceful beauty of "The Better Claim" is mostly a showcase for the luminous mixture of Warren Wolf's vibes and Clay Jenkins' trumpet, while the best summation of the band's sound may be the airy but surging weave of "Within Us," built around the dignified piano soloing of Per Danielsson.

The Jazz Surge has a more restrained sound than similar ensembles. Chuck Owen creates quietly powerful compositions and arrangements which build slowly and openly evoke emotion. He is also blessed to have a wonderful band that expresses his ideas in memorable and dramatic fashion. This CD is an excellent introduction to his sound.

Track Listing

Chelsea Shuffle; Trail of the Ancients; American Noir; Milestones; Apalachicola; Sparks Fly; The Better Claim; Within Us (An Invincible Summer).


Chuck Owen
composer / conductor
Frank Greene
Jay Coble
Clay Jenkins
Tami Danielsson
saxophone, alto
Steve Wilson
saxophone, alto
Rex Wertz
saxophone, tenor
Matt Vance
saxophone, baritone
Keith Oshiro
Tom Brantley
Mark Neuenschwander
bass, acoustic
Beth Gottlieb
Warren Wolf
Additional Instrumentation

Chuck Owen: arranger, accordion, hammered dulcimer; Steve Wilson: soprano sax; Jack Wilkins: tenor sax; Jim Hall: trombone; Corey Christiansen: dobro; Beth Gottlieb: djembe (6). Warren Wolf: vibraphone, marimba (1, 7).

Album information

Title: Within Us | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: MAMA Records



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Billy Marrows and Grande Família
Cadair Idris
Awen Ensemble
DDG19 Big Band
Dani Gurgel


Get more of a good thing!

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