Dennis Owsley | St. Louis Public Radio

Dennis Owsley

Jazz Unlimited Host

Dennis Owsley has broadcast a weekly jazz show for St. Louis Public Radio since April 1983. He holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and is a retired Monsanto Senior Science Fellow and college teacher. His show, Jazz Unlimited, airs every Sunday from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. The show has the largest jazz audience in St. Louis and was named Best Jazz Radio Show in St. Louis for the years 2005-2007 and 2009 by the Riverfront Times. In celebration of his 25 years on the air, January 24, 2008 was proclaimed Dennis Owsley Day" in the City of St. Louis. He is the 2010 winner of the St. Louis Public Radio Millard S. Cohen Lifetime Achievement Award. Dennis is also a noted photographer, and his exhibit, In the Moment: Photographs of Jazz Musicians, ran from September 23, 2005 to January 21, 2006 at the Sheldon Art Gallery. He is a lifetime student of jazz history and teaches short courses on the subject. Dennis is the author of the award-winning book City of Gabriels: The History of Jazz in St. Louis 1985-1973, published in 2006.

Ways to Connect

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Jazz Unlimited for December 10, 2017 will be “The Career of Don Pullen.”  Pianist/organist Don Pullen was born in Roanoke, Virginia on Christmas Day, 1941.  He was one of the more imaginative players in jazz from 1973 until his death from cancer in 1995.  He co-led the Don Pullen-George Adams quartet, one of the great jazz groups of the 1980’s and then explored connections between jazz, African and Brazilian music in the 1990’s.  He will be heard with his own trio, on solo piano, and with David Murray, Conjure, Maceo Parker, Roy Brooks, the group Shakill’s Warrior, the group Roots,

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, December 4 is "The Career of Max Roach."  One of the founders of bebop drumming, Max Roach’s 69 year performance career included sideman work with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, leading his own groups, most notably Brown-Roach, Inc., pioneering civil rights work, choral music, symphony music and his own percussion ensemble, M’Boom.  Other musicians heard on the show will be Coleman Hawkins, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, George Wallington, Thelonious Monk, The :Lighthouse All-Stars, Herbie Nichols, Jazz at the Philharmonic, J.J.

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Jazz Unlimited FOR Sunday, November 26, 2017 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour (Jim Hall) Plus New Music.”  I have always been fascinated by the sound and conception of guitarist Jim Hall, who will be featured on the “Keys and Strings Hour.”  Hall will be heard in duos, a trio, piano quartets and a quintet featuring such artists as Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, Pat Metheny, Hampton Hawes, Geoff Keezer and Red Mitchell, who will be playing cello.  New music will be heard by the Canadian pianist Nick McLean, Bill Charlap, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Joey Alexander, Christian McBride and hi

Cuban Jazz Musicians

Nov 20, 2017

For November 19, 2017, Jazz Unlimited preented "Cuban Jazz Musicians."   Jelly Roll Morton called the Cuban influence on jazz “The Spanish Tinge.”  These musicians have been involved in jazz since the beginning.  Cuban Albert Socarras played the first jazz flute solo in 1927. The music by Socorras, Chucho Valdes, Chano Pozo, Dafnis Prieto, Hilario Duran, Mongo Santamaria, Machito, Irakere, Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D'Rivera, Mario Baiza, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Candido Camero, Chico O'Farrill, Harold Lopez-Nussa, Fabian Almazan and Alex Acuna was heard.

Jazz Unlimited November 12, 2017 was “Re-Imagining “Ain’t Misbehavin’, Honeysuckle Rose and Jitterbug Waltz.” Fats Waller composed many tunes, some of which are favorite vehicles for re-imagination in a variety of styles.  The musicians who played “Ain’t Misbehavin,” “Honeysuckle Rose” and “The Jitterbug Waltz” ranged from Waller himself to Anthony Braxton.

There are no photos for this show.

There is no video for this show.

The Archive for this show will be available until the morning of November 20, 2017.

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, November 5, 2017 will be “The Career of Lee Konitz.”  Saxophonist Lee Konitz has been performing on the international stage for 72 years.  He was known early in his career for associations with Claude Thornhill, Lennie Tristano, the Birth of the Cool band and Stan Kenton.  Konitz has forged a long career in styles ranging from swing to avant-garde.  In addition to the above, we will hear him with Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Judy Niemack, Warne Marsh & Bill Evans, Jeanfrancois Prins, Brad Mehldau & Charlie Haden and Art Pepper.  His composition “S

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Jazz Unlimited for October 29, 2017 will be “Jazz Giants for September and October.”  Jazz giants are those musicians who have made exceptional contributions to jazz.  Our Jazz Giants show for September and October will present such musicians as Jimmy Blanton, Lester Bowie, Clifford Brown, Hamiet Bluiett, Ray Brown, John Coltrane, Dave Holland, Milt Jackson, Elvin Jones, Oliver Lake, Jelly Roll Morton, Art Pepper, Oscar Pettiford, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, Art Tatum and Gerald Wilson.

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

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Jazz Unlimited for October 22, 2017 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour Plus New Music.”  The quieter side of jazz will present an hour of compositions of Thelonious Monk played by pianists including Monk himself, the Monk’s Music Trio, Jay McShann & John Hicks, Jessica Williams, guitarist Joshua Breakstone and sung by Judy Niemack.

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Jazz Unlimited for October 15, 2017 will be “The Thelonious Monk Centennial.”  In his lifetime, Thelonious Monk composed just over 70 tunes.  Monk’s little gems are the second most recorded compositions in all of jazz history.  Monk would have been 100 years old on October 10.  We will play his music performed by him on solo piano, small groups and big bands and by Ray Anderson, Carmen McRae, Scott Amendola, the Monk’s Music Trio, Abbey Lincoln, Irene Schweizer, Coleman Hawkins, Organ Monk, Fred Hersch, John Coltrane, Andy Bey, Kenny Barron & Regina Carter, Danilo Perez, Steve

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Jazz Unlimited for October 8, 2017 will feature “The Music of Mal Waldron.”  Pianist Mal Waldron was one of the great accompanists in jazz, playing with nearly everyone during his over 50-year career, including Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Teo Macero, Steve Lacy, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Terence Blanchard & Donald Harrison, Abbey Lincoln,  David Murray, Judy Niemack and Anthony Braxton.  He composed over 400 tunes and we will hear two of these played by our own Hard Bop Heritage group and Dizzy Gillespie.  He also composed music scores for at least four films.

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Jazz Unlimited for October 1, 2017 will be “The Music of John Lewis.”  Best known as the pianist and music director of the Modern Jazz Quartet, John Lewis was involved in much more.  During his over 50 year career, he played with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and was involved in the development of Third Stream music, a classical jazz hybrid.  We will hear him with the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Miles Davis “Birth of the Cool Band,” The Dizzy Gillespie Big Band and small groups, the American Jazz Orchestra, Clifford Brown and J.J.

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Jazz Unlimited for September 24, 2017 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour (Dizzy Gillespie Tunes) + New Music.”  The quieter side of jazz in the first hour will feature tunes by Dizzy Gillespie played by pianists Lynne Ariale, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Phineas Newborn, Jr., Keith Jarrett, Mary Lou Williams, Oscar Peterson, Tommy Flanagan and Kenny Barron.  The noisier side of jazz will be heard in the second and third hours with new music played by Harold Mabern, the Debbie Poryes Trio, Emi Meyer, the group Hudson, a Martian Solal/Dave Liebman duet, Steve Lacy and Roswell Rudd playing a Mo

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Jazz Unlimited for Septemner 17, 2017 will be “The Dizzy Gillespie Centennial.”  Jazz needs a Dizzy Gillespie for his audience communication skills and basic humanity.  We will celebrate his hundredth birthday, which will be in October, with a survey of the music in his career mainly from a time when he was playing at his best technically and imaginatively.  We will hear Dizzy with his own groups and big bands, Cab Calloway, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson, Jazz At the Philharmonic, Quincy Jones, Benny Carter and

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Jazz Unlimited for September 10, 2017 will be “The Music of Oscar Peterson.”  Pianist Oscar Peterson is reputed to be the most recorded pianist in jazz.  We will hear him with Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Ed Thigpen, Ben Webster, Flip Phillips, Lester Young, Stan Getz & Lester Young, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Jazz At the Philharmonic, Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Sonny Stitt and Stuff Smith.  This show is part of the St.

The Sleep Cycle

Aug 31, 2017

All of us spend a significant portion of our lives sleeping.  When we are asleep, we dream, we have rapid eye movements, some of us talk, some of us walk and at one time or other we all have nightmares.  There are a surprising number of tunes having to do with what goes on when we sleep.   We feature music by Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Ben Webster, Irene Reid, Johnny Hodges, Bertha Hope, Roger Kellaway, Count Basie, Ornette Coleman, Kurt Elling, Gary Burton, Horace Silver, Irene Reid, Meredith D'Ambrosio, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Charles Mingus, Gerald Clayton, Marilyn Crispell, Toshiko

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Jazz Unlimited for August 27, 2017 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  Piano duets will be featured on the August “Keys and Strings Hour.”  The duets will be between Albert Ammons & Meade “Lux” Lewis, Ralph Sutton & Jay McShann, Oscar Peterson & Benny Green, Count Basie & Oscar Peterson, Harold Danko & Kirk Lightsey, Tommy Flanagan & Hank Jones, Chick Corea & Hiromi and Dick Hyman and Roger Kellaway.  In addition, new music will be heard from a CD entitled “The Passion of Charlie Parker,” the group Steps Ahead, Slideride (a kind of “World T

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, August 20, 2017 will be “Broadway 1950 and Beyond-Part 2.”  Before the original cast record albums, most of the music from Broadway musicals came into jazz via films based on those shows.  Since then, music directly from Broadway shows has crept into jazz.  We will hear music from “The King and I,” “The Music Man,”  “Guys and Dolls,” “42nd Street,” “Funny Girl,” “Company,” “A Chorus Line,” “The Wiz,” “The Girls of Summer,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “The Sound of Music,” “Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of

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Jazz Unlimited for August 13, 2017 will be “Broadway: 1950 and Beyond-Part 1.”  Before the original cast record albums, most of the music from Broadway musicals came into jazz via films based on those shows.  Since then, music directly from Broadway shows has crept into jazz.  We will hear music from “West Side Story,” “My Fair Lady,” “Evita,” “Hello Dolly,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “A Little Night Music,” Camelot,” “Mary Poppins,” “Bells Are Ringing” and “The King and I.”  Singleton Palmer, Buddy Rich, Sarah Vaughan, Keith Jarrett, David Liebman, Oscar Peterson, Shelly Manne, Tamir

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Jazz Unlimited for August 6, 2017 will be “Dexter Gordon in His Own Words.”  The great tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon was noted not only for his melodic solos that were compositions in their own right but also for inserting humorous quotes into his solos.  He had a great speaking voice and late in his career was nominated for an Oscar for his work in the film “‘Round Midnight.”  We will hear him in four monologues on various topics and with Dizzy Gillespie, the Billy Eckstine Orchestra, Wardell Gray, Herbie Hancock, Woody Shaw and with his own groups.  His compositions will be pla

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, July 30 2017 will be “Remembering Geri Allen.”  Geri Allen was a pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader and visionary jazz educator who died last June.  Jazz Unlimited will pay tribute to her by playing music from her own Mary Lou Williams Collective and Timeline groups as well as with such musicians as Bobby Hutcherson, Andy Bey, Charlie Haden, Charles Lloyd, Roy Brooks, Betty Carter, T.S.

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