Songs of Freedom

FEAT.  THEO BLECKMANN, ALICIA OLATUJA & JOANNA MAJOKO

First presented under the auspice of Jazz at Lincoln Center, the 1960s are explored through the work of three prolific artists: Joni Mitchell, Abbey Lincoln, and Nina Simone – all of whom have made an indelible mark in music. Each artist expressed freedom in various ways. Joni composed and sung about the freedom of love, Abbey expressed freedom of her individuality and race through her lyricism, and Nina Simone demanded freedom politically through song.  The project is under the musical direction of Grammy Award-winning drummer, Ulysses Owens Jr.


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Generation y

Generation Y is a quintet comprised of the most dynamic young jazz musicians on the scene. This group is dedicated to moving the music forward, with a love of the jazz tradition. Ulysses Owens Jr., has been the driving force behind such great artists as Nicholas Payton, Christian McBride, Wynton Marsalis, Mulgrew Miller, Joey Alexander and many others. Through his relationship with these great bandleaders he learned of the legacy of Art Blakey and Betty Carter, both of whom were renowned for their own bands (which became educational institutions) and launched the careers of many of today’s paradigm-shifting musicians on the jazz scene. 

In the past five years, Ulysses career has shifted from being a "young lion” to grooming the next generation of talent via his performance, production and educational career.  In the tradition of Blakey and Carter, Ulysses introduces “Generation Y”, paying it forward by selecting a new crop of a talent through his professorship at The Juilliard School as well as young musicians he has discovered. Generation Y is a dynamic group that conveys the power of the jazz tradition by showing that the future of the music is in good hands. 

Ulysses Owens Jr.’s Generation Y features:

Alexa Tarantino- Alto Saxophone, Flute 

Drew Anderson- Trumpet

Luther Allison-Piano

Philip Norris-Bass


Ulysses Owens Jr. Big Band

Drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. This high-octane big band is an expansion of the acclaimed New Century Jazz Quintet, which already features five of the best rising star musicians from New York City and Japan: Ulysses Owens, Jr., Tim Green, Benny Benack III, Takeshi Ohbayashi, and Yasushi Nakamura. Over the past few years, the Quintet has performed to enthusiastic New York audiences at Dizzy’s Club and throughout Japan, leaving no question that they’re all key players in the future of jazz. The big band configuration adds 11 worthy instrumentalists to the mix, giving a platform to even more top emerging voices in jazz. The group’s varied repertoire includes originals and a range of original compositions by Ulysses, and such artists as Michael Jackson, John Coltrane, and Mulgrew Miller, offering a strong foundation for improvised solos and big band fireworks. This band has is also contracted for various high profile artist’s, where Ulysses serves as Music Director and has this great cast of players joining him.

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