Trefor Owen Biography


Trefor Owen —Internationally Acclaimed Jazz Guitarist, Educator and Author

Trefor Owen is a self-taught guitarist who took up the guitar at the relatively late age of 18. At that time, Trefor was aware of a certain sound in his head, but without knowing what he was hearing, until one night he heard Benny Goodman’s “Rose Room” featuring Charlie Christian on guitar and realised that the sound was jazz. From then onwards, jazz has been his life.

Charlie Christian, and also Johnny Smith and Wes Montgomery, inspired Trefor’s playing greatly and a later influence was Pat Martino. During a trip to the States in 1988, Trefor interviewed Pat for the jazz guitar magazine, “Archtop”, on which he was a regular columnist.

Trefor greatly admires the musical genius of the late Ike Isaacs and of Louis Stewart. He toured Britain with Louis in 1989, their guitar duo being heard in, for example, the Band on the Wall in Manchester, Glasgow’s Musicians’ Institute and at the Soho Jazz Festival.

Trefor Owen has many festival appearances to his credit, including several at Cork International Jazz Festival. In 1990, he and fellow guitarist Adrian Ingram conducted the prestigious jazz workshop there.

In 1992, Trefor was short-listed for the Daily Post Award for Jazz and was awarded an Arts Council bursary for the composition of ten Latin American pieces.

During the past few years, Trefor Owen has played extensively with the fantastic Martin Taylor and the great Mundell Lowe. In 1993, he toured the UK and appeared at Cork International Jazz Festival with International Guitar Spectacular, a four-guitar combo in which he featured with Mundell Lowe, Louis Stewart and Doug Raney.

During a 15-date British tour with Mundell Lowe in 1995, Trefor’s playing was highly acclaimed wherever he appeared. Trefor played alongside Mundell in a BBC recording made during the tour and broadcast in the Radio 3 series “Impressions” in May 1995. In the same month, Trefor performed at the Northern Guitar Show organised by Guitarist Magazine.

1995 continued to be a highly-successful year for Trefor Owen. In September, The Trefor Owen Quartet presentation “A Tribute To Wes Montgomery” received a Jazz Services National Touring Support Scheme Award for its UK tour. In October, Trefor appeared with Howard Alden and Adrian Ingram at the Arlington Guitar Show Texas USA, and became a regular columnist for an American publication “Just Jazz Guitar”.

Trefor Owen’s 1996 festival dates included Keswick, Llangollen and Cork. Another 1996 highlight was a U.K. tour with Paris based U.S. guitarist Jimmy Gourley.

In January 1997 Trefor played at the NAMM Show in Los Angeles, and in May appeared at the New York Guitar Show, alongside many Jazz guitar greats.

Trefor’s dream of a tour of the U.S.A. came true in July 1997 when he performed concerts and workshops in New York, North Carolina and Nashville.

In October, he again toured the U.K. with the legendary Mundell Lowe, performing both concerts and workshops. Highlights of the tour included a broadcast for BBC Radio Scotland and appearances at the renowned Pizza Express Jazz clubs in London and Glasgow.

January 1998 began with appearances at the NAMM Show, Los Angeles. Trefor also appeared with Mundell Lowe and John Pisano at the L. A. Jazz Guitar Weekend at Papashon’s Restaurant, Encino alongside many Jazz guitar greats.

In April 1998 he released an album on the Crimson label. The album includes seven of Trefor’s original compositions and is titled, “WALES PLAYS BRAZIL”.

In May 1998 Trefor Owen again appeared at the New York Guitar Show, Long Island giving a workshop and concert. In July/August he performed in a guitar duo with Jim Nichols in the main auditorium, and conducted a workshop, at the Chet Atkins Convention in Nashville, followed by a return visit to Papashon’s Restaurant, Encino, Los Angeles, where he played with Ron Eschete and John Pisano. On the same tour Trefor made appearances in San Francisco at Enrico’s with Jim Nichols, and at the famous Pearl’s Jazz Club with guitarist Bruce Forman, and performed at the Acoustic Guitar Show at San Rafael.

In September Trefor made appearances with American guitarist Randy Johnston and in October paid his fourth visit of 1998 to the USA, giving performances in the Boston area.

Trefor began 1999 by appearing at the NAMM Show, Los Angeles and in May for the third time played at the New York Guitar Show, alongside many Jazz guitar greats. In the Autumn he toured the U.K., first with Mundell Lowe in September, and then with Randy Johnston in November.

In April 2000 Trefor Owen was again invited to appear at the New York Guitar Show, Long Island

In April 2001 Trefor again toured the U.K. with the legendary Mundell Lowe, performing both concerts and workshops. Highlights of the tour included a broadcast for BBC Radio Scotland.

In 2006, for the third consecutive year, he toured California appearing in San Francisco and at John Pisano’s Guitar Night at Spazios, Sherman Oaks, L. A. During the tour, Trefor performed clinics for JazzMasters Workshops at Carmel, the first non American guitarist to do so and has since made another appearance in the Jazz Bar at the Classic American Guitar Show, and appeared at the prestigious Jazz Cafe, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC.

In August 2008, for the eighth year, he led a team of international guitarists tutoring and performing at the North Wales International Jazz Guitar Festival and Summer School in Wrexham.

Trefor Owen believes that Jazz should be both beautiful and communicative and accomplishes these qualities in his own playing, with his superb sound, fluid melodic lines and punchy rhythm.

Despite a busy professional life, Trefor finds time to act as honorary director of the North Wales Jazz Society which, since its formation in 1990, has presented numerous world renowned jazz artistes. With co-director Maureen Hopkins, for eight years until 2008 he organized the North Wales International Jazz Guitar Festival/Summer School, and the NWJS continues to present the highly popular Jazz Guitar Weekends at Glyndwr University, Wrexham.