“The inspiration behind the Jon Rowden Group is, in musical terms, ‘walking the fuzzy line between form and freedom’. Tonight we will play original compositions and arrangements written by members of the band, ranging from and inspired as much by post-bop to baroque opera.
Most of us are classically trained, and have a great appreciation for the music we studied and fell in love with in school. Furthermore, we have a shared, collective aesthetic, meaning we not only on the individual soloists, but the way that unique individuals come together to create an organic whole a moment in time when we exist for each other, pushing one another past beyond our perceived limitations of form, rhythm, and harmony, and hopefully, bringing the listener with us. Personally, this approach means much to me, as I believe it reflects what we are made for–not to be isolated, solitary creatures, or just assembly-line built cogs in a societal machine. Every person is unique, is important, and in our music, brings their own voice to the group, and it dramatically changes things at times. If this value is not shared, then the real music will simply not happen. Within this, there is great room for flexibility and for the improvisations to take unexpected courses. These are moments that make us feel like what we are doing is worth all of the effort. We are incredibly excited to be debuting this particular iteration of the group at Vitello’s, and we express our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all in attendance.” -Jonathan Rowden
Jonathan Rowden is a jazz saxophonist in the Los Angeles area. He began playing the alto sax at age 7 when he heard Richard Cole of the Northwest jazz scene playing in his father’s recording studio. He instantly became a fan and asked Cole if he would teach him. Jonathan studied with Cole for one year before moving to California, where he played in school bands throughout his school career. Originally intending to study animation, his direction shifted during high school as his growing love for the saxophone and jazz eventually took sway, and led him to pursue a music education in college. He is both classically trained and deeply rooted in the jazz idiom, earning his BA in Saxophone Performance from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, and his MM in Jazz Performance from California State University Fullerton. During his time as a student, he was afforded the opportunity to study with many incredible jazz musicians/educators, especially saxophonist Jeff Ellwood, and classical musicians/educators Jim Rötter and Kenneth Foerch. Jonathan cites many different saxophonists, from Hank Mobley to Eric Dolphy to Ellwood as profound influences, but maintains his own distinct voice on the instrument, and one that has especially been seen emerging over the past few years. He mentions: “I feel like it was during that time [in grad school] that I started to find myself my inclinations, tendencies, flaws, and strengths. I think it’s been a process of just getting to know myself, and to be honest about that. In a lot of ways it had always been there I just had to accept who I was and learn to live that out to the fullest, growing pains included.” Currently, Jonathan maintains a busy schedule working as a jazz musician in Los Angeles and Orange County, as well as being a published and active educator in jazz. He lives happily in Huntington Beach with his wife of three years (and counting) Rachyl.
Jonathan Rowden (sax)
Matt Perko (drums)
Ryan Pryor (piano)
John Urban (bass)