Owen, who directs the jazz studies program at the University of Oregon, is one of the top contemporary big band writers and arrangers going. If you're not familiar with his work, then listen to Stand Up Eight, which is easily one of the best big band albums of the last couple years. In addition to the excellent writing and ensemble playing, it features a number of outstanding soloists. Trumpeter Clay Jenkins' playing is a standout on the haunting and dark "Still." Alto saxophonist Todd DelGiudice (who can be heard on several recent albums on the Origin/OA2 labels) is the featured soloist on Owen's arrangement of Cole Porter's "Everything I Love." After a lengthy intro/setup, DelGiudice enters backed by the full band. His solo is full of forward energy and intensity, and his alto sound contains a nice mix of sweetness, heft and edge. The other non-Owen composition is his arrangement of Radiohead's "Kid A," commissioned by the Frankfurt Radio Big Band and Lawrence University. Owen's chart - which features Jenkins and tenor saxophonist Peter Sommer - doesn't stray too far from the original, and his use of marimba and woodwind doubles creates a wide array of timbres. Stand Up Eight, which from an engineering and mastering standpoint sounds great, is an excellent album from a composer who should be heard by a wider audience.