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Canadian-born saxophonist Ralph Bowen started piano lessons at and early age, with clarinet and saxophone lessons following soon thereafter. By the age of thirteen, he was leading his own quartet and performing in big bands in the Toronto area. As a teenager, Bowen was awarded a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to study music with Pat LaBarbera and Phil Nimmons at the Banff School of Fine Arts. While in Toronto, he studied with LaBarbera for a total of eight years and developed a long-time association with drummer Kieth Blackley and his father educator/drummer Jim Blackley. As well, he performed and recorded with Canadian fusion group Manteca. In 1983 and 1984, he was awarded two more grants to pursue his musical studies in the Jazz Department at Indiana University, where he honed his skills in the rigorous Artist Diploma program under the tutelage of Distinguished Professor David Baker. In 1985, the same year he and Cecil Taylor were voted "Main Jazz Men of the Year" by Canada's Toronto Globe and Mail, Bowen won the audition for the Blue Note Records co-leader position of the contemporary all-star New York based jazz band known as Out of the Blue (OTB). He moved to New York, and would eventually record four albums for Blue Note. Thereafter, he recorded a series of albums for the Dutch label Criss Cross Jazz. Most recently, he has been recording for the USA-based label Posi-Tone Records.

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