The Daily Pulse:

Lance Owens' long, long, long-awaited debut album release

The Knoxville Museum of Art's dependably fun Live After Five series has hosted a few CD releases over the years, but never one quite like this.

"Lance Owens" is the debut album of saxophonist Lance Owens, who's reputedly one of Knoxville's finest horn players, in his own smooth, melodic style. His talent makes him stand out; a secondary distinction is that he turns 90 this July. The man has been playing sax for about 75 years, often professionally. He played for his fellow troops during World War II. In New Guinea he even once shared a stage with Bob Hope. But he's just now getting around to releasing a record.

The Johnson City native was a familiar figure in Knoxville from 1948 on, playing at now-defunct clubs like the C'est Bon, the Workers Club, Gordon's Townhouse, and the Blue Note, often with the popular dance band Willie Gibbs and the Illusionaires. But his idol was Lester "Pres" Young, the legendary saxman Owens got to hear during trips to New York. Owens was never tempted by the sharp, aggressive extremes of bebop, favoring the sentiment and melody of a good song. His record has 13 of his favorites, American Songbook standards like "Out of Nowhere," "The Second Time Around," "In a Mellow Tone," and "What's New?", but also some postwar Broadway show tunes and even a couple of bossa-nova numbers.

Local jazz legend Donald Brown produced the record, recorded last summer at Allen Smith's West Knoxville studio, and Brown's talented sons, pianist Keith Brown and drummer Kenneth Brown, make notable contributions, too, along with bassist David Slack and, on two cuts, drummer Danny Taylor.

One of fate's cruel ironies is that Owens was recently hospitalized for pneumonia earlier this week, and though he's reportedly much better, we can only root for him to be able to attend.

The party starts at KMA Friday at 6:00. Tell your jazzhound chums. It's a rare event. 

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