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

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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 brothers, Red and Whitey Mitchell, Bud and Richie Powell, Stu and Claude Williamson, Charl

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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 Brecker brothers, the Cole brothers, the Barron brothers, the Bryant brothers, Kenny Drew and

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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 Jackson, J. J. Johnson, James P.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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 Jazz Orchestra and a trio of Ralph Alessi, Kris Davis and St. Louis’s own Steve Davis.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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 addition, Joe Lovano, Jay McShann, Booker Ervin, Nick Brignola, Ray Anderson, St.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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, which has been a revelation to most drummers since the 1960s.  He was one of the

Hits Of The 1960's

Jan 3, 2016
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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 Jackson, Fred Hersch, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Roberta Flack, Dexter Gordon, the World Saxophone Q

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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 Valdes, Gary Bartz & the Heads of State, John Coltrane, Matthew Shipp, Orrin Evans a

Winter Holiday Music

Dec 19, 2015
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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, Toshiko Akiyoshi.

Unknown / Courtesy of Richard Davis

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 (Smile) Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run) and Van Morrison (Astral Weeks

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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 by the Ralph Sutton/Dick Hyman duo, a Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald vocal duet, Eddie Condon

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.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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 Jenkins, Adam Niewood and Kamasi Washington.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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 Henderson, Ann Hampton Callaway, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Kurt Elling, Donald Harrison, T.S.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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 Burrell, Richard Davis, Charles Mingus, Richard Davis, James Newton, Clark Terry, George Mraz, Jimm

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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 the Pat Metheny Group, Kurt Elling, Matt Wilson’s Arts and Crafts, the Pat Metheny-Brad Mehlda

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, Oct. 11, is “The Music of Kenny Dorham.”  During his active playing career, flashier contemporaries, such as Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan sadly eclipsed trumpeter Kenny Dorham in the public eye.  This was because of his softer sound, narrower range and a more melodic playing style. 

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for October 4 is  “The Career of Jeff Hamilton.”  Born in Richmond, Indiana, drummer Jeff Hamilton is comfortable playing in all styles of music, equally at home in trio, combo or big band settings.  He went to Indiana University and started his career with Lionel Hampton in 1974.  Jeff first came to prominence with Monty Alexander trio in 1976.  Since then, he has played with a wide variety of artists, including Woody Herman, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and the LA Four.  His drumming is very melodic and is characterized by the use of an older style Chinese cymbal.  He teaches,

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, September 27 will be “Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  In the “Keys and Strings Hour,” we will hear the compositions of Bud Powell, who, in his heyday, was considered the technical equal to Art Tatum.  Powell was the progenitor of the more open bebop style of piano playing with “shells” of the chords in his left hand.  Jacky Terrasson, Medeski, Martin & Wood, George Shearing, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chick Corea, Danilo Pérez, Geri Allen, Keith Jarrett and Bud Powell himself will interpret his works.  In the new music segment of the show, we will hear a Mozart P

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, September 20 will be “Compositions of Monk and Coltrane.”  This show focuses on the compositions of Monk and Coltrane interpreted by others.  We will feature the music of three classic albums: Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Music (1957),” 5 by Monk by 5 (1959) and John Coltrane’s “Crescent (1964).”  In addition, five other Coltrane compositions written from 1958-60 will be explored.  These musicians will include Dan Rubright, Steve Schenkel, the Monk’s Music Trio, the Bill Holman Big Band, Steve Lacy, Joe Lovano, James Carter, Karrin Allyson, Marty Ehrlich, Frank Morga

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, September 13 will be “The Music of Wayne Shorter.”  Over his 56-year career, saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter has won ten Grammies and numerous other awards.  He is best known for his long tenures with Art Blakey, Miles Davis and Weather Report and has led many ensembles, most notably his “without a net” quartet with Danilo Perez.  In addition, we will hear him with Lee Morgan, Herbie Hancock and J.J.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, September 6 will be “The Career of Jack DeJohnette.”  Drummer Jack DeJohnette has been one of the major drummers in jazz since 1965.  Born in Chicago, he was an early member of the AACM and played with Charles Lloyd, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and Keith Jarrett as well as leading his own groups.  He was one of the first drummers to use rock rhythms in a jazz context.  DeJohnette will be heard tonight with his own groups, Keith Jarrett, Betty Carter, Jackie McLean, Chick Corea, Jerry Hahn, Don Byron, Charles Lloyd, D.D.

New Music

Aug 26, 2015
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for August 30 will be “New Music.”  New music will be heard on Jazz Unlimited to close the month of August.  This show will include the “Keys and Strings Hour.”  Some of the artists on this show will be our own Gateway City Big Band and Bosman Twins as well as Arturo O’Farril, Fred Hersch, Barry Harris, Kenny Werner, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Ramsey Lewis, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Charlie Haden, Kurt Elling, Sam Rivers, the Clusone 3 and Jacob Garchik with his album “The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album.”

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright William Gottleib

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, August 23 will be “The Norman Granz Labels-Part 3.”  Entrepreneur-Promoter Norman Granz founded the Clef, Norgran, Down Home, Verve and Pablo record labels.  Part 3 of this series presents recordings by Joe Pass, Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Bryant, Lee Konitz, Betty Carter, Bud Powell, John Coltrane, Michael Brecker, Kenny Burrell, Benny Carter, Roy Eldridge and Billie Holiday, among others.

The Slide Show has my photographs of three of the artists heard on this show.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, August 16 will be “The Career of Ray Brown.”  Oscar Peterson introduced him as “The Relentless Ray Brown.”  He was born in Pittsburgh in 1926 and began piano lessons at age eight.  When he got to high school, he began playing bass with Jimmy Blanton as his major influence.  He went to New York in at the age of 20.  He was soon invited to a rehearsal and the musicians there included Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Al Haig and Max Roach.  Dizzy hired him on the spot and Ray never looked back.  He participated in 900 recording sessions, 75 as a leader.  In his 57-ye

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, August 9 will be “The Career of Dave Holland.”  Bassist Dave Holland was born in England in 1946.  He is self-taught, one of the few modern jazz musicians without conservatory training.  Holland has been a professional musician since 1964.  Miles Davis and Philly Joe Jones discovered him in Ronnie Scott’s club in London in 1968.  Since that time, he has played with many of the greatest musicians in jazz and taking part in 319 recordings, 24 as a leader.  This show will highlight his work with his own groups and big band, Miles Davis, Charles Lloyd, Claudia Acuňa,

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The Jazz Unlimited show for August 2 is “The Fifty Year Career of Kenny Barron.”  Born in Philadelphia in 1943, pianist Kenny Barron began his career in 1960 and was best known early in his career for his work with Dizzy Gillespie.  Since that time he is now considered to be one of the most important and influential mainstream jazz pianists since the bebop era.  We will hear him with his own groups, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Kevin Mahogany, Dave Holland, Benny Carter, Stan Getz, Regina Carter, Sphere, Judy Niemack, a six French horn ensemble, Joshua Breakstone, Ron Carter’s Piccolo Bass

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