Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Cowan, Bob (Robert E.)

Cowan, Bob (Robert E.), trombonist, bandleader, educator, music store owner; b. Tulsa, Oklahoma, 4 February 1926. His father was Dwight George Cowan (June 7, 1898-July 6,1976) and his mother was Ethel Lois Keller Cowan (Dec. 8, 1894-Oct. 16,1994). He took piano lessons as a youngster and then became very interested in the trombone which had been an instrument that his father played. He was encouraged by his band director at the Drumright Oklahoma High School.  He participated in all the musical groups at the school including Concert Band, Big Band Jazz ensemble and received several honors in High School District and State levels of competition in l942-44.  

I was drafted into the Army in l944.  I did Infantry training as well as Bugling and Playing Trombone in the 125th  Infantry Regiment Band.  Later I joined the 5th Infantry Division Band in Europe. I went into combat with Gen. Patton and marched across Europe with the Third Army.  After VE Day, I returned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky and was again able to play with 5th Infantry Division Band until my Discharge in l946.
When I returned to Tulsa, I joined Local 94, Musicians Union and continued to play professional jobs in the Tulsa area (e.g., dance bands, concerts band and the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra) I enrolled in the University of Tulsa under the G.I. Bill and completed both a Brown, Frank McPeters (Coast Guard Band Soloist).  I performed with the Tulsa Philharmonic for ten years (including time off for participation in the Korean War). At the same time, I was performing with several large and small jazz groups, circus bands Rodeo Bands , and traveling Show Bands.  During one summer, I was in the back-up Band for Patti Page.  I was also First Chair Trombonist with the Starlight Concert Summer Series with nationally outstanding soloists. 
In l950, I was recalled into active duty during the Korean Conflict, and became Director of the 330th Army Band and Jazz Ensemble and Soloist with each group. 

When I was discharged from this service, I returned to Tulsa and resumed my playing career.  Later I moved to the Kansas City area and joined Local # 34 to enhance my playing career in the local area.  I was hired as the Instrumental Music Director for the Fort Leavenworth Military Installation School System.  In addition to my teaching career, I was very active in the Performance and Directing Areas including Trios, Brass Choir, Big Band Jazz Groups, Brass Quintets, Trombone Choir,  both as a an Organizer and Soloist.  I also Organized a Leavenworth Community Band and was the Director for 10 years, .My School Band played for the Dedication of the Bradley Elementary School.  Gen. Omar Bradley attended that ceremony and sent me a Letter of Commendation.  For the last 50 years, I have, in addition to my other duties, given many, many Private Lessons and have students that have become professionals in their field.  I am still very active in the performance and teaching fields, as well as the owner of a full line music store, (Toon Shop, Inc.) and have a staff of 20 professional teachers to give top quality instruction to students in the area.

My family has also been active in music. My wife is Shirley, who is also a graduate of the University of Tulsa with a BME in voice has taught privately and in the Public Schools until we purchased the Toon Shop and now works there.  Our sons were Ronald M. (clarinetist and worked in the store with us until his death) and Conrad C.  (who played Tuba in High School and is now a Tennis Pro). 

He received additional Graduate Education at Kansas State University, Pittsburgh State University, Mankato State University, St. Mary College, and many Graduate Level Workshops with nationally outstanding performers and educators. 

Some professional organizations he is associated with are the International Trombone Association, Phi Mu Alpha, the International Musicians Local 34 and 94 (retired), Kansas Music Educators Assn., Music Educators National Conference, National Education Assn., and the Kiwanis Club

Contact information:
Robert E. Cowan
514 Delaware
Leavenworth, Kans. 66048
Phone (913) 682-3453
E   Mail - toonshop@lvn.com

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