Growing up in Port Orange, FL as the oldest of three siblings, Joshua Bowlus started piano lessons at age five. He trained classically throughout his childhood with private lessons at Stetson University until he began high school. He credits both his high school band director Andrew Kidd and local pianist and teacher Harold Blanchard for sparking his interest in jazz, introducing him to the legendary sounds of masters such as Ahmad Jamal, Oscar Peterson, Thelonious Monk and more. Bowlus was awarded the Louis Armstrong award in high school and continued his music education at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, studying under pianists Kevin Bales & Keith Javors. The head of the UNF jazz department and legendary alto saxophonist Bunky Green served as Joshua’s primary mentor through his later years in college. Since graduating from college in 2006, he has built his musical career as a jazz pianist in the Southeast region, as both bandleader and sideman for various groups and artists.
Joshua has performed at multiple jazz festivals and venues around the country, including the Jacksonville Jazz Fest, the Savannah Jazz Fest, the Monterey Jazz Fest, Good Times Jazz Bar, B-Sharp's Jazz Cafe, The Jazz Corner, and Iridium Jazz Club in NYC. He has also performed abroad in France, Spain, and China. As the pianist for the UNF Jazz Ensemble One during his college years, the big band played a two-week concert tour of China, and performed as a big band on the Great Wall of China.
Bowlus currently performs as the bandleader for his own trio and quartet, and plays regularly in local venues such as The Parlour, Blue Jay Listening Room, Breezy Jazz Club, The Volstead, and the Ritz Theatre. He has performed on stage with national and international artists including Bunky Green, Jazzmeia Horn, Ulysses Owens, Barry Greene, Dennis Marks, Yasushi Nakamura, Annie Sellick, Patrick Bartley, Jon Irabagon, Adam Larson, Charanee Wade, and Chantae Cann. Bowlus collaborates regularly with vocalist Linda Cole, who is a family member of the Nat King Cole family dynasty. They released an album together in 2014 entitled “What a Wonderful World.” Joshua is a founding member of the Jazz Conceptions Orchestra, a NYC-based 9-piece jazz ensemble. He co-leads the Jax Jazz Collective, a modern jazz sextet which has recorded two albums thus far. Bowlus has recorded on many projects with other celebrated artists, including tenor saxophonist John Ricci, drummer Ben Adkins, electric bassist Jon Reshard (a fusion album which includes guitarist Greg Howe and drummer Dave Weckl), drummer Larry Wilson, vocalist Carter Calvert, and alto saxophonist Daniel Dickinson. He most recently recorded with up-and-coming alto saxophonist DeAndre Lettsome for his debut album “Impetus.”
Joshua has focused much of his performances in the last few years around tributes to the sound of the masters of this music, including the Ahmad Jamal Trio and the Ray Brown Trio. Bowlus is also part owner of a Jacksonville-based record label, Bold City Music Productions, founded and led by his close friend and long-time musical partner Ben Adkins. Joshua is soon to release a Christmas-themed album in November 2023 titled “Sleigh Ride” under Bold City Records, which features long-time friends and musical collaborators Linda Cole (vocals), Juan Rollan (tenor sax), Stan Piper (bass), & Ben Adkins (drums). Looking ahead to 2024, Bowlus is working on a project that will include more original work, and yet another album which will feature his own arrangements of well-known Disney melodies. Bowlus is married to his wife Brandy and has two young boys, Owen and Ethan. He currently resides in Jacksonville, and performs locally and regionally as a freelance pianist.