Ulysses Owens Jr. is an artist "who takes a backseat to no one" (The New York Times), a label that seemingly describes his remarkable ascent as one of today's premier drummers, or perhaps, his evolution as a producer, composer, educator, and entrepreneur. Ulysses Owens Jr. is steadily establishing himself as a leader in his generation of jazz artists, admired for his sensitive, fiery, and complex playing, vivid display of textural nuance, and gift for propelling a band with charisma and integrity. Owens is a two-time Grammy® Award winner who has earned his stripes as a member of bassist Christian McBride's acclaimed trio and the driving force of McBride's famed big band. His 2009 debut recording "It's Time For U" featured several original compositions and arrangements. In 2012, he released a second album, "Unanimous" (Criss Cross Jazz), featuring Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton, Jaleel Shaw, Michael Dease, and Christian Sands.
In 2010, Ulysses received his first Grammy® for his performance on Kurt Elling's "Dedicated To You," and his second Grammy® for the Christian McBride Big Band album, "The Good Feeling." In 2014, he garnered a third nomination for Christian McBride's Trio album, "Out Here."That same year marked the release of two new albums as a leader: his third album, "Onward and Upward;" and "Time is Now," the debut album of New Century Jazz Quintet, co-led with Takeshi Ohbayashi for the Japanese label, Spice Of Life.
As a producer, Owens is gaining international prominence, with nearly 20 albums to his credit and six full-length projects in production this year. JazzTimes describes his production " as "fresh, innovative, and refreshingly uplifting....appealing to a new generation of listeners, while still honoring jazz as a tradition."
In 2008, Owens and his family founded the non-for-profit organization, Don't Miss a Beat, Inc. with the mission of combining music and art with a focus on academic achievement, civic engagement, and empowering inner city students to strive for their dreams. At heart, Owens approaches music at a spiritual level, blending his musical Owens has recently been honored with a 2015 Jazz At Lincoln Center Swing Award, 2014 Global Music Award, and a 2013 ASCAP Plus Award. In 2014 he was nominated as a Downbeat Rising Star. In 2015, he remains in demand for new projects, including his first Artist-in-Residency at the Park Avenue Armory in their "Under Construction Series." He just also completed a world premiere of his suite" Stages Of Us", as part of the MoMa Summer Garden Series in 2015. Ulysses is very fortunate to be living his dream daily as a creative force that is fortunate to share his gift with the world.