Trumpeter and educator Jimmy Owens is having a stellar 2012 so far. His latest IPO Recordings release “The Monk Project” celebrates and focuses on the compositions of pianist Thelonious Monk. The all-star recording features the likes of pianist Kenny Barron; Winard Harper on drums, Howard Jones on tuba and baritone saxophone; Wycliffe Gordon on trombone; Marcus Strickland on tenor saxophone; and Kenny Davis on bass.
In his 50 years in the business, the 68 year-old musician has been on the front lines for the betterment for working jazz musicians. As a board and active member of the Jazz Foundation of America, part of Jimmy’s lifework has been to help musicians seek funding for medical expenses, legal assistance, housing, and steady work. He founded the Musicians Emergency Fund due to the lack of support from the arts community and serve as a means to never negate the lives of many musicians that haven’t had the support or the able means to survive. Musicians that have benefited from this generous program were Odetta, Fats Domino, Clark Terry, Freddie Hubbard, Cecil Payne, and Sweet Georgia Brown.
In addition to his dedication to the JFA, he’s also been a supporter and advocate for the Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians here in New York City. It’s Jimmy’s drive and passion that he’s fought State Politicians to repeal the 8.25% admission tax for clubs and major venues and to take those funds and contribute them to the AFM’s pension fund.
This and his dedication to education in jazz music is why he’s been honored as one of this year’s NEA Jazz Master Inductees.
Jimmy, who hails from the Bronx, New York, was exposed to jazz music when he was kid when his parents played the music. He wanted to play the trumpet and one of his first teacher’s as well as mentor, Dr. Donald Byrd, got him to take the instrument and studying it seriously. Over the years he’d back and play with some of jazz music’s leading innovators and icons. Musicians like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillispie, and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.
Today he still teaches as well as serves as a mentor to many of today’s current jazz musicians and composers.
For upcoming tour dates along with info to order his latest disc “The Monk Project,” please visit him on the web at jimmyowensjazz.com.