Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home

Chuck Owen and The WDR Big Band


Review by Gary Hill

There is some amazing and particularly potent instrumental music contained here. I've included this under progressive rock because that's where we land fusion, but perhaps this is more mainstream jazz than fusion. Still, I think prog fans, especially those who like jazz prog, will enjoy this release. Everything here works so well.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2024  Volume 1 More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Knife's Edge
This is a powerhouse jazz jam. This thing is on fire. Various instruments get to shine, and this is a killer opening number that has plenty of mainstream jazz along with more fusion-leaning stuff.
...And Your Point Is?
In some ways, this is less direct and more understated. It also wanders a little further from the more mainstream stuff. The organ soloing on this is a nice touch.
Of Mystery & Beauty
Bass starts this. It eventually works its way to some driving, crazed jazz. This is perhaps more mainstream jazz than fusion, but it's a smoking hot number either way. I really love some of the soaring horn work. It does drop to some rather trippy, mellower zones further down the road for an interlude. This is almost eleven minutes long, so it covers a lot of territory.
This Love of Mine
Piano is a central point as this gets going in a mellower way. This thing is another track that's over ten minutes long. That gives them plenty of room to explore sonic possibilities. It's a dynamic and growing cut that has both mainstream and more exploratory jazz moments.
Fall Calls
This is mellower and quite evocative. It has a slower groove and a lot of style. It eventually works up to more powerful and intense jazz music. That powered up movement past the eight-minute mark is one of my favorite passages of the whole album. I love how it drops back to a mellower, rather mysterious sounding section after that, too. Sedate music closes this out.
Arabian Nights
An interpretation of a Chick Corea composition, at close to 12 minutes long, this is the epic of the set. Mysterious (and suitably Arabic sounding) music gets this going, and they gradually build on that. This builds out with more pure jazz textures, but quite exploratory for a while. Then, around the halfway mark, a smoking hot electric guitar solo comes in that heralds a shift to more pure jazz rock. At times that section makes me think of King Crimson. At others it's more along the lines of pure fusion. It's fierce and so strong.  This has some smoking hot fusion jamming even after that guitar drops back.
A Ridge Away
Mellow and mysterious sounding, this is a slow moving piece as it gets underway. It really presents a major contrast to the powerful fury that we heard on the last number. While this remains on the slower side, and the more emotional, it gets powered up at times.
This is classy stuff. While it's more along the mainstream jazz lines, it has some sections that feel more exploratory. I really like the playful, yet mellower, dropped back movement that comes in after the mid-point of the piece. The transition section and more powered up stuff beyond that is great, too. A short reprise of earlier themes ends this.
Return to the
Chuck Owen and The WDR Big Band Artist Page
Artists Directory

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./