Today’s June Highlight is Ulysses Owens Jr.’s Gen Y. This one is special to us because it shows the power of music education and how things can come full circle. Back in 2002 Ulysses was one  of our students at our JAS Academy, a full scholarship program where college level jazz students get to study and work with some of jazz’ current greats. From there he has gone on to have an amazing career as a music educator and an touring artist involved in many projects.

One of those current projects is, Generation Y, a quintet comprised of the most dynamic young jazz musicians on the scene. This group is dedicated to moving the music forward, with a love of the jazz tradition. Ulysses Owens Jr., has been the driving force behind such great artists as Nicholas Payton, Christian McBride, Wynton Marsalis, Mulgrew Miller, Joey Alexander and many others. Through his relationship with these great bandleaders he learned of the legacy of Art Blakey and Betty Carter, both of whom were renowned for their own bands (which became educational institutions) and launched the careers of many of today’s paradigm-shifting musicians on the jazz scene.

In the past five years, Ulysses career has shifted from being a “young lion” to grooming the next generation of talent via his performance, production and educational career.  In the tradition of Blakey and Carter, Ulysses introduces “Generation Y”, paying it forward by selecting a new crop of a talent through his professorship at The Juilliard School as well as young musicians he has discovered. Generation Y is a dynamic group that conveys the power of the jazz tradition by showing that the future of the music is in good hands.

This is where the full circle comes in. Not only was Ulysses a JAS Academy student of ours, but 3 out of the 4 of his Gen Y “young lions” also attended the JAS Academy in the last 3 years. We are so happy to be able to give 4 of our students the stage and allow them to show us how far they have come and what they have learned!

Support Music Ed and get your tickets for their show at the Wheeler Opera House 6pm & 9pm. Tickets can be purchased here:


Ulysses Owens Jr. – Drums – JAS Academy 2002

Alexa Tarantino- Alto Saxophone, Flute – JAS Academy 2018

Drew Anderson- Trumpet

Luther Allison-Piano – JAS Academy 2019

Philip Norris-Bass – JAS Academy 2018