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

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Jazz Unlimited for May 8, 2016 will be “Compositions Associated with Miles Davis.” Trumpeter Miles Davis was one of the most important and innovative figures in jazz from 1947 until his death in 1991. But, throughout his career and up until today, the provenance of some of the compositions he claimed as his have been in dispute. We will hear his compositions along with those that are in dispute. They will be played by Miles himself, Charlie Parker, Ray Bryant, J.J. Johnson, Kurt Elling,...

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, May 1, 2016 will be “The Career of Jimmy Cobb.” Best known for his associations with Miles Davis and the Wynton Kelly Trio, drummer Jimmy Cobb is now 87 and still going strong. He was born in Washington D.C. in 1929 and was first heard in 1948 with Dinah Washington and Dizzy Gillespie. We will hear selections from his career that span the years from 1954 to 2014 with Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Dinah Washington, the Gil Evans Orchestra, Bobby Timmons, Wes...

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, April 24, will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.” The Keys and Strings hour will feature pianist Keith Jarrett, one of the most amazing improvisers in jazz, in solo, duo and trio performances. New music for April will include the debut live recording of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, the SF Jazz Collective performing the music of Michael Jackson, vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, the Steve Kuhn Trio, the East-West Trumpet Summit, newly discovered live...

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The Sunday, April 17 Jazz Unlimited will be “Compositions of Duke Ellington.” April marks the 117th th birthday of one of our greatest composers, Duke Ellington. We will hear music that includes a 1932 medley in stereo , a suite for a film on the horse racing paintings of Degas, a vocal of one of his pieces from “Such Sweet Thunder,” a tribute to Shakespeare. Other artists on the show include Al Cohn, Benny Carter, Horace Silver, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Johnny O...

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Jazz Unlimited for April will be “The Career of Geri Allen.” Geri Allen was born Pontiac, MI. Her family moved to Detroit. She is a graduate of Cass Technical High School, whose music program has produced so many jazz musicians. She has an AB in jazz from Howard University and an MS in ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to her performing career, she is now an Associate Professor and jazz studies director at the University of Pittsburgh. We will be heard with her...

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, April 3, will be “The Career of Ron Carter.” Ron Carter is the most recorded bassist in jazz. In his 50-year career, he has played with just about everybody. This show includes Carter’s playing with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall, Benny Carter, The Great Jazz Trio, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Eric Dolphy, T.S. Monk, The Kronos Quartet, Tadd Dameron, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Barron, Geri Allen, Gil Evans, Abby Lincoln, McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill, Chick Corea, Joe...

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Jazz Unlimited for March 27 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.” The late pianist Paul Bley will be remembered during the Keys and Strings Hour. New music will be featured in the second and third hours. It will include trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, Charles Lloyd, the young pianist Joey Alexander, Hendrik Muerkins, drummer Sherry Miracle and Five Play, the Stryker/Slagle band, Snarky Puppy, the Phil Woods Quintet, Bill Frisell, the Kansas City Generations Sextet, the Russian bassist...

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Jazz Unlimited for March 20, 2016 is “The Music of Sonny Rollins.” Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins is one of the greatest living improvisers in jazz. Over his sixty plus year career, he has taken part in many recordings as both a leader and sideman. He has also composed well-known jazz standards that remain challenging today. We will him with his own groups, Bud Powell, Brown/Roach Inc. Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. His compositions will be played by St. Louisan Grant Green with Sonny...

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Jazz Unlimited for March 13, 2016 will be “Jazz Families-Blood Relatives-Part 5.” This last program on the genetics of jazz will feature music by the Joe and Walter “Foots” Thomas, the New Orleans Humphrey, Joseph, Batiste, Barker, Barbarin, and Jordan families, George E. and Julia Lee, the Hall Brothers, Nicholas Payton and his father Walter, the Sims brothers, St. Louis’s Silverman brothers, the Freemans of Chicago, Oscar Pettiford and his brother Alonzo, Ingrid and Christine Jensen, and...

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Jazz Unlimited for February 6, 2016 is “The Compositions of Richard Rodgers.” Richard Rodgers was a composer who wrote over 900 compositions. Music from his Broadway shows is used in jazz. His music will be performed on this show by Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Bill Watrous, Roy Hargrove, Donald Byrd, Pepper Adams, Billie Holiday, the Great Jazz Trio, Gerry Mulligan, Nat Adderley, Sonny Clark, Miles Davis, Roger Kellaway, Red Mitchell. Gene Harris, John McLaughlin, Cassandra...

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Jazz Unlimited for February 28, 2016 will be the fourth of a five-part series on “Jazz Families: Blood Relatives.” There are an amazing number of jazz musicians who have blood relatives (mothers, fathers, siblings) who are also jazz musicians. The musicians heard on this show include St. Louis’s own Kennedy brothers, Bosman Twins and their father Lloyd Smith along with the Moten brothers, the Teagarden family, the Dorsey brothers, the Rollini brothers, the McShann brothers, the Jacquet...

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Jazz Unlimited for February 21, 2016 will present the third part of a five-part series on “Jazz Families: Blood Relatives.” There are an amazing number of jazz musicians who have blood relatives (mothers, fathers, siblings) who are also jazz musicians. This show will have music from our own Singleton Palmer Dixie Six with Ben Thigpen, Ben’s son Ed Thigpen, our own Jeter-Pillars Orchestra, the Quintet of the Hot Club of France with the Reinhardt brothers, the Marsala brothers, the Montgomery...

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Jazz Unlimited for February 14, 2016 is the second ina five-part series on “Jazz Families: Blood Relatives.” There are an amazing number of jazz musicians who have blood relatives (mothers, fathers, siblings) who are also jazz musicians. This show will have music from the St. Louis families of the Leroy Harris Sr., Ralph Sutton and his sister Barbara Sutton Curtis and Asa Harris and her father Ace Harris and her uncle Erskine Hawkins. Also featured are Billie Holiday and her father Clarence,...

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Jazz Unlimited for February 7 will be the first of a five-part series on “Jazz Families: Blood Relatives.” There are an amazing number of jazz musicians who have blood relatives (mothers, fathers, siblings) who are also jazz musicians. This show will feature music by the Dodds brothers, the Buckner brothers, the DeParis brothers, the Goodman brothers, Albert Ammons and his son Gene, Cannonball and Nat Adderley and Nat’s son Nat Adderley, Jr., the Clayton family, the Candoli brothers, the...

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, January 31, 2015 will be “Jazz Giants Born in January and February.” Jazz Giants are those musicians whose individuality makes them both instantly recognizable by their sound and revered for their inspiring playing. Among these giants are Henry "Red" Allen, Mildred Bailey, Frank Butler, Big Sid Catlett, Kenny Clarke, Curtis Counce, Tadd Dameron, Buddy DeFranco, Roy Eldridge, Jimmy Forrest, Stan Getz, Benny Golson, Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Bobby Hutcherson, Milt...

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, January 24 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.” Pianist Marian McPartland was a beloved figure in jazz because of her “Piano Jazz” radio program. She will be featured on the “Keys and Strings Hour.” In addition, new music for January will feature a six-CD set from pianist Joe Castro, and new CD’s from Harold Mabern, Marlene Ver Planck, Lew Tabackin, Joshua Redman with the Bad Plus, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Jimmy Cobb’s original Cobb’s Mob, The 14...

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Jazz Unlimited for January 17 will be “The Career of John Hicks.” Born in Atlanta, pianist John Hicks came to St. Louis at the age of 14. Hicks went to high school with Lester Bowie and Oliver Lake. He went to Lincoln University and the Berklee School of Music. Hicks made his first recordings with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He soon became an in-demand pianist, playing with Betty Carter and David Murray in addition to leading his own groups. This show will feature him with, in...

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Jazz Unlimited for January 10, 2016 will be “The Career of Tony Williams.” A child prodigy, drummer Tony Williams was born in Chicago in 1945 but was raised in Boston. A student of Alan Dawson, Williams was playing professionally at age 13 with Sam Rivers and other advanced musicians. At 17, he joined the Miles Davis Quintet and revolutionized the way rhythm sections have played since the mid-1960’s. According to Drummer magazine, his playing suggested melody, counter-point, and harmony,...

Hits Of The 1960's

Jan 3, 2016
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Jazz Unlimited for January 3, 2016 will be “Hits of the 1960’s.” Since around 1955, jazz musicians rarely play the hit pop tunes of their time. The reason is that many of these tunes do not have interesting melodies or chord progressions sufficiently challenging for these musicians to play them. Some of them did and those will be the ones used by these musicians, some even into the 2000’s. This music will be played by Duke Ellington, Grant Green, Debbie Lennon, Oscar Peterson & Milt...

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Jazz Unlimited for December 27, will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.” The “Keys and Strings Hour” will present pianists Teddy Wilson, Dave Brubeck, Roger Kellaway, John Hicks, Ray Bryant, Toshiko Akiyoshi and Hampton Hawes in solo, duo, trio and quartet formats. New music for December will be Scott Hamilton with the Jeff Hamilton Trio, Junior Mance, the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, Carrie Wicks, A David Friesen & Glen Moore duet, vocalist Carrie Wicks, Amina Figarova, Chucho...

Winter Holiday Music

Dec 19, 2015
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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, December 20 will be “Winter Holiday Music.” In this country, the month of December is host to four major celebratory traditions: Hanukkah (December 6-14), Winter Solstice (December 22), Christmas (December 25) and Kwanzaa (December 26-Jamuary 1). We will play music not only of the season, but also suggestive of the season. The artists heard on this show are Joe Henderson, Don Byron, Count Basie. The Sackville All-Stars, Dave Brubeck. Thomas Marriott, Keith Jarrett,...

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Jazz Unlimited for December 13, 2015 will be “The Career of Richard Davis.” Bassist Richard Davis was born in Chicago in 1930. In high school, he studied with Captain Walter Dyett. After college, he worked in dance bands and with Don Shirley. He got to New York in 1954, playing with the Sauter-Finnegan Orchestra. Davis accompanied Sarah Vaughan from 1957-1960. During this time, he was building a studio career playing music of many genres. His studio work included hit records by Laura Nyro (...

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Jazz Unlimited for December 6, 2015 will be “The Compositions of Irving Berlin.” Composer Irving Berlin was part of a group of Eastern European Jews whose families immigrated to the United States to escape persecution in the late 1800’s. Even though there was a lot of prejudice against them, these immigrants invented the music publishing industry. Quite a few of these immigrants were composers who wrote the Great American Songbook. The compositions of Irving Berlin will be played on this show...

Jazz Unlimited for 11/29/15 is "The Career of Joe Pass." The New Yorker magazine said, “Joe Pass looks like somebody's uncle and plays guitar like nobody's business. He's called ‘the world's greatest’ and often compared to Paganini for his virtuosity. Despite starting his solo career 13 years late due to unfortunate circumstances, Pass worked constantly from 1961 to 1994. There are no photographs for this show. This Archive of the show will be available until the morning of December 7, 2015.

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Jazz Unlimited for November 22 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.” The Keys and Strings hour will present piano trios and solos with Jessica Williams, Joanne Brackeen, Hiromi, Dawn Clement, Irene Schweizer, Marilyn Crispell, Kris Davis and the Mary Lou Williams Collective. New music for November will be from St. Louisans Peter Martin and Dom Thomas, along with Cassandra Wilson, Erroll Garner, Kenny Wheeler, Christian Scott, Charles Mingus, Joel Harrison and Spirit House, Jeff...

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, November 15 will be “The Career of Christian McBride.” Born in Philadelphia in 1972, bassist Christian McBride joined Bobby Watson’s Horizon at the age of 17. A virtuoso, he has played with nearly every important name in jazz since then. His career has involved funk, pop and fusion in addition to mainstream jazz, earning four Grammies. He will be heard with his mentor, Ray Brown, Jay McShann, Cyrus Chestnut, the Contemporary Piano Ensemble, Roy Hargrove, Joe...

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Jazz Unlimited for November 8, 2015 is “The Career of Sir Roland Hanna.” Born in Detroit in 1932, Sir Roland Hanna studied at the Eastman School of Music and graduated from Julliard in 1960. He was one of the most flexible of all the modern jazz pianists in that he was equally at home in big bands and small groups. Hanna spent much of his career anchoring the Benny Goodman and Thad Jones/Mel Lewis big bands. In 1970, he was named an honorary knight of Liberia. We will hear him with Kenny...

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, November 1, 2015 will be “The Music of Pat Metheny.” Since the late 1970’s, guitarist Pat Metheny has been a very popular figure in jazz, but he is much more than that. He is always experimenting with different guitars and ways of playing his instrument. Over his career, Metheny has played with the most advanced mainstream musicians of his day. In addition, we will play seven of his compositions by other musicians. Musicians and groups featured on this show include...

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Jazz Unlimited for October 25, 2015 will be “A Tribute to Willie Akins and New Music.” St. Louis saxophonist Willie Akins died September 23, 2015 from congestive heart failure. Akins worked in New York during the 1960, but returned to St. Louis in the early 1970’s to take care of his ailing father. He has inspired at least two generations of young jazz musicians and taught at Webster University. We will play music from some of his own recordings, with Jeanne Trevor and Richard “Groove” Holmes...

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Jazz Unlimited for October 18, 2015 will be “The compositions of Wayne Shorter.” During his long career, saxophonist Wayne Shorter wrote quite a few fascinating compositions that are played today by many other musicians. Shorter’s saxophone will not be heard on this show, but we will hear his compositions played by St. Louis’s own Willie Akins and Montez Coleman, Larry Johnson, Carolbeth True and her Two Times True group, Kurt Elling, the Harold Danko, Kirk Lightsey piano duo, the Bob...

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