USF faculty member closes out week-long Verizon Music Festival

Tonight, the last show in the eclectic Verizon Music Festival will feature the long-lasting Manhattan Transfer.

USF’s own Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge will open for the Transfer.A dynamic band with a lot of local flavor, Surge was founded by Owen, a USF faculty member and the former director of jazz studies at USF.

Owen conducts the 17-20-piece big band comprised of jazz musicians.

Surge has multiple festival and convention performances under its belt, including the Clearwater Jazz Festival and three International Association for Jazz Education performances, one in Miami and two in New York City.

Two-thirds of Surge musicians have a USF connection. The group includes full-time faculty, adjunct faculty, graduate students and alumni. Among the faculty is Jack Wilkins (tenor saxophonist), current director of jazz studies.

The entire rhythm section is comprised of adjunct faculty.

“[The Jazz Surge is] an incredible group of musicians, many with nationally renowned careers of their own, all thrown together in one big band,” Owen said.

One big band it is, but completely different from the ones of the ’40s.

While embracing a traditional big-band style, Owen has also incorporated elements of hip-hop, folk, funk, salsa and country into his pieces.

Owen is currently the director of the jazz ensemble and a professor teaching all jazz composition classes in USF’s School of Music.

“I learn so much from teaching students and working with the university band that I can always take that experience to working with Surge,” Owen said. “They definitely feed off each other.”

Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge will perform at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center on Thursday, May 20. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $29.50 to $45.50.