Jimmy Owens (trumpet, flugelhorn) was born in New York City (December 9, 1943). He began his trumpet studies at the age of fourteen with Donald Byrd and later studied composition with Henry Brant. He graduated from the High School of Music and Art and received a Master of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts. At age fifteen, Jimmy played with the Newport Youth Jazz Band and later played with Lionel Hampton, Hank Crawford, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Duke Ellington, and Billy Taylor among others. He has over forty-five years of experience as a Jazz trumpeter, composer, arranger, lecturer, and music education consultant. His experience covers a wide range of international musical achievement, which includes extensive work as a studio musician, soloist, bandleader, and composer of orchestral compositions, movie scores, and ballets.
In January 2008, Jimmy was the recipient of the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award at Howard University. In 2007, he produced and released a new CD on his own label Jay-Oh Jazz Recordings, a division of Jay-Oh Productions, Inc., called Peaceful Walking with a fine rhythm section from Italy. As one reviewer said, “This terrific quartet is a platform for Jimmy Owens to display his writing, arranging, and playing prowess - which he does with precision.” He also appeared on Gerald Wilson’s CD Monterey Moods . This was his third appearance on a Wilson CD in recent years. He was a sideman in the critically acclaimed In My Time  and New York New Sound, Gerald Wilson’s 2003 Grammy-nominated CD. In 2004, he also appeared on One More - Music of Thad Jones (2004). Jimmy is an active and important member of the Jazz education community.
He sits on the boards of the Jazz Foundation and was on the Board of Local 802 AFM from 1998 through 2009. His expertise and knowledge is often called upon for issues relating to health and pension benefits for Jazz artists or to share his first-hand experiences about being in the bands of several Jazz Masters. Jimmy is one of the few trumpeters of his generation who played as a sideman with such extraordinary Jazz leaders as Lionel Hampton, Hank Crawford, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Duke Ellington, Billy Taylor, and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band, among others. As a result, he can share unique musical and personal recollections of performing in some of the most exciting bands in the history of Jazz music. His anecdotes are priceless: being chosen by Willie Ruff to play a trumpet tribute to Cootie Williams, Sweets Edison, Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie at the historic 1972 inaugural Ellington Fellowship Concert at Yale; sitting in with Miles Davis at the age of fifteen; participating in the 20th anniversary musical celebration of Senegal’s independence in 1980. In addition to all of this, he’s also led his own group, Jimmy Owens Plus … since the 1970s playing at festivals and in concert halls all over the world.
Throughout Jimmy’s long career, he has consistently emphasized in both his performances and recordings a deep understanding of the blues as well as beautiful and articulate emotional projection on ballads. As a reviewer stated in All About Jazz regarding Jimmy’s performance on One More: The Summary - Music of Thad Jones, Vol 2 (2006), an all-star recording on which Jimmy appeared - “Jimmy Owens … proves that he’s better than ever, whether employing a breathy, vocal quality (“Little Pixie”), a smooth flugelhorn sound (“Three in One”), or brilliant and elliptical Jones-like melodic ideas (“Rejoice”).”
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has named The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music core faculty member Jimmy Owens a 2012 Jazz Master and the recipient of the A.B. Spellman Award for Jazz Advocacy. Owens has served the jazz community as a committed educator and a tireless campaigner for both the music and its artists. His efforts are exemplified by his foundation of the Jazz Musicians Emergency Fund, an organization committed to assisting musicians with medical and living expenses. The Fund has been particularly active in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, having helped over 1000 musicians in that city find housing, medical care, and food.