Winnifred Bowden regularly played the gospel song Just a Closer Walk with Thee for her young son in their hometown of Halifax. It was a favourite of hers and she intended for Joseph to warm to it as well.
Little did she know Joseph would grow up to become a successful musician and reinterpret the song with a jazzy, New Orleans vibe on one of his albums.
Joseph Bowden, the program assistant at the School of Creative and Performing Arts at Humber College and a Humber alumni, is the driving force behind The Timeless Quartet’s album, Timeless Classics: Straight Up Groovin’, a compilation of jazz standards.
Bowden is the drummer in the quartet. He is joined by pianist Robi Botos, bassist Lajos Botos Jr., and tenor saxophonist Peter Cieslikowski. Pat LaBarbera is another tenor saxophonist that collaborates with the group as a special guest.
Botos and LaBarbera are also Humber faculty members.
The nine-song album includes an original song Bowden wrote, Joe’s Tune, and also includes a rendition of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World.
“It’s a concept project,” Bowden said. “I tried to bring attention to what I do as a writer and producer, but also play the classics that people tend to recognize.”
Bowden’s knack for bringing new material to the table while delivering audiences with songs they are familiar with is one of his strengths, said Andrew Scott, a Humber music professor and head academic advisor in the music program.
“He’s a very talented composer and a great arranger,” Scott said. “It’s a great record compositionally as well as from a playing perspective.”
Bowden is a well-rounded musician with experience in R&B, Latin, polka, and soul. He thrives on diversity.
“I’m trying not to get slotted into one particular style of music,” he said.
Bowden’s wide-array of musical talents is a benefit for the students attending Humber. He and the quartet members that are part of Humber’s faculty bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the program, said Humber’s director of strategic initiatives, Nancy Burt. She has known Bowden since he was a student at the college.
“He’s a real success story among our grads,” she said.
Bowden said a more mellow collection of timeless classics would be featured on his next album.
Bowden’s previous album, The Voices in my Head, was released in February 2012.
Timeless Classics: Straight Up Groovin’ was released on Jan. 12.