from The San Diego Union Tribune:
“Sax great Charles Owens counts Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, Marvin Gaye among past collaborators”
by George Varga
The year was 1972 and Charles Owens’ reputation as one of the most gifted and versatile young musicians in Los Angeles was growing by the day.
At the time, Owens — who’d already earned attention for his sterling work with drum legend Buddy Rich and Latin-jazz great Mongo Santamaria — was a member of an all-star Anglo-American band led by English blues king John Mayall. But that didn’t stop former San Diego music iconoclast Frank Zappa from seeking to lure fellow former San Diegan Owens away from Mayall.
“I could have stayed with Mayall and made ‘Grand Theft Auto’ dough!” recalled Owens, who appears in the Oscar-winning film “La La Land” and teaches a weekly jazz performance class at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music.
“But I chose Frank, because his music was much more challenging. We were playing all types of time signatures and it was one of the best musical periods of my life.” Owens, who grew up in San Diego and counted fellow saxophonist Arthur Blythe as one of his closest friends here, chuckled.
“I got that gig with Frank because he wanted a tenor sax player who also played oboe,” Owens said from his home in Los Angeles. “And I just happened to have studied oboe at SDSU and was playing it in Los Angeles.” He was recommended to Zappa by yet another former San Diegan, jazz sax luminary Harold Land.