****RINGER OF THE WEEK****Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge: Whispers On The Wind

One of the uncharted waters for jazz is country and traditional Americana. Usually, any attempt gets either too hokey or lost in the translation. Composer and orchestrator Chuck Owen does an impressive melding of Montana and 52nd Street on this big band collection that includes impressive guess such as Randy Brecker/tp, Clay Jenkins/tp and Gregoire Maret/harm.

The delicate balance of Coplandesque open spaces and room for swing works well as the Gil Evans-inspired brass surrounds Mart and Valerie Gillespie’s alto sax on “Sentinel Rock,” while rural tones get a bit more bold as Corey Christiansen’s dobro weaves through bold horns on “Gunslingers” while Brecker, Jack Wilkins/ts and Tom Brantley/tb and drummer Danny Gottlieb also get a chance out in the Wild West. Some red Georgia clay is felt with deep reeds on the noir-ish “Into The Blue” and rural blues bounce to Jenkins’ trumpet and Christinsen’s guitar for “All Hat, No Saddle.” The strings that sigh for Sara Casell’s violin on the bohemian “Warped Cowboy” evoke images ranging from John Ford to the Sons of the  Pioneers, but with the jazz harmonics, they are as comfortable in NYC as Cheyenne.


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