Dennis Owsley

Jazz Unlimited Host

Dennis Owsley has been hosting a weekly radio show on St. Louis Public Radio since 1983. He has been a jazz album collector, aficionado, and historian since 1958 and has seen most of the major artists in jazz in live performance.

Owsley wrote an award-winning book, City of GabrielsThe Jazz History of St. Louis 1895-1973.

Nearly all the music heard on Jazz Unlimited is from Owsley's personal collection. He is gaining an international reputation as a photographer of jazz musicians as well.

Ways To Connect

William Gottleib / Copyright William Gottleib

Jazz Unlimited for May 3 is “The Career of Pee Wee Russell.”  Clarinetist Pee Wee Russell was born in Maplewood Missouri in 1906.  All of his life, he was a contrarian who went his own way.  Even though he was a very original voice, Pee Wee was very shy and people laughed at him because he looked like a clown.  Whitney Balliet remarked that, “even his feet look sad.”  During his career, Balliet noted that he worked with the wrong musicians most of his life and during the last seven or eight years worked with musicians he should have been working with his entire life.  He also became a very

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for April 26 will be “The Billie Centenary and New Music.”  Vocalist Billie Holiday set the standards for jazz vocals from the 1930’s up until today.  They are emotional honesty, good time and swing.  Very few have even attempted (unsuccessfully) to imitate her.  She will be heard singing both live and in studio singing from 1935 to 1957.  Her accompanists include Roy Eldridge, Lester Young, Benny Goodman, Ben Webster, Teddy Wilson, the Esquire All-Stars, the Jazz at the Philharmonic All-Stars, the Count Basie Band, the Artie Shaw band, the Eddie Heywood Orchestra, Carl Drink

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for April 19 will be “The Music of Herbie Hancock.”  Jazz Master Herbie Hancock has been actively been writing, performing and recording his original music for 54 years.  His early success with Blue Note records and with Miles Davis provided a springboard for an exceptionally creative life.  He has written and performed in several different styles of music.  Born in Chicago, he was recognized as a prodigy, playing a movement the 26th Mozart Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony at age 12.  He simultaneously earned engineering and music degrees from Grinnell College.  His e

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for April 12 will be “The Compositions of Duke Ellington.”   Duke Ellington was one of the great composers of the 20th century.  His work lives on by continual performances and recordings by many artists in many musical genres.  We will focus on some longer compositions played by the maestro and mainly lesser-known compositions by other artists including Brooks Kerr, the Empire Brass, Betty Roche, the Either/Orchestra, Kurt Elling, Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, the Concord Jazz Festival All-Stars, Ella Fitzgerald, Dr.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited show for Sunday, April 5 will be “The Music of Joe Henderson-Part 2.”   Tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson was comfortable playing with musicians whose styles ranged from hard bop to avant-garde.  In Part 2 of the music of Joe Henderson, we will hear him with Kenny Dorham, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Lee Konitz, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, Bebop and Beyond, John Scofield, Freddie Hubbard and his own groups.

The Slide Show contains my photographs of some of the musicians heard on this show.

William C. Gottlieb / Copyright William C. Gottlieb from the Library of Congess Collection

The Sunday, March 29 Jazz Unlimited show is “Jazz Giants for March and April.”  These musicians are the ones who have changed the way we listen to jazz.  They have set the styles.  These musicians include Bix Beiderbecke, Harry Carney, Lionel Hampton, Nat “King” Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Gerry Mulligan, Carmen McRae, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Larry Coryell, Thad Jones, Charles Mingus, Pee Wee Russell, Johnny Griffin, Red Norvo, Sarah Vaughan, Randy Weston, Billie Holiday, Jim Hall, George Adams, Paul Chambers, George Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Charles Lloyd, Lennie Tristano, Charles Tolliver, Joe Hen

New Music

Mar 22, 2015
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Please join me tonight on Jazz Unlimited from 9:00 pm to midnight for “New Music.”  This show consists entirely of new music.  The Keys and Strings hour features a new 1977 recording of the Red Garland Trio, the Mark Wade Trio, the Avashai Cohen trio, Albert “Tootie’ Heath’s Philadelphia Beat trio, and solo pianist Lara Downes playing two tunes from the Billy Holiday songbook.  The second and third hours of the show feature new music St.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited March 15, 2015 will present “The Music of Joe Henderson-Part 1.”  Tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson came on the scene in 1963.  He brought a unique sound, style and conception to his music.  This show will feature him with his own groups and such musicians as Grant Green, Bobby Hutcherson, Horace Silver, Woody Shaw, the Wynton Kelly Trio, Lee Morgan, Larry Young, Andrew Hill, Charlie Haden and Al Foster.  In addition, his compositions will be sung and played by Judy Niemack, Janice Borla, the Blue Wisp Big Band, James Williams, Stanley Clarke and the Conrad Herwig “Latin Side o

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, March 8 will be “Jazz Musicians with Long Performance Careers. Part 4.”  Like their classical counterparts, most major jazz musicians have long performing careers.  Jazz musicians who die young are not the norm, but in many cases, it is these musicians we choose to remember.  The last jazz Unlimited show in this series will feature 54 musicians with performing careers of over 50 years.  These musicians include St.

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, March 1 will be “Remembering Clark Terry.”  One of our national treasures, St. Louis trumpeter and jazz educator Clark Terry died February 21 at the age of 94.  We will hear approximately 28 minutes of his voice, telling stories about his life.  The music will include Clark with Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, Benny Carter, Duke Ellington, his own Big B-A-D Band, Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band, St. Louisan Chris Woods, Abbey Lincoln, Tubby Hayes, J.J. Johnson and Lee Konitz.

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