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 Sunday, September 29 will be "An Interview With Marty Ehrlich and a Tribute to Cedar Walton.”  University City High School graduate, reed man Marty Ehrlich visits Jazz Unlimited to discuss his career, an open forum at the Regional Arts Commission on Thursday, October 3 at 7:00 p.m.

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Jazz Unlimited on Sunday evening, September 22 is “A Tribute to Marian McPartland and New Music.”   Pianist Marian McPartland was born in England and during World War II met and married traditional jazz trumpeter Jimmy McPartland soon after the war.  Soon Marian had a long running gig at the Hickory House on 52nd Street.  This eventually led, in addition to her busy performance schedule, to a career in radio.  Her show “Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz” was a staple on NPR from 1978 to 2011.  Marian died on August 20, 2013.  The first hour of Jazz Unlimited is dedicated to her music.  The las

The Sleep Cycle

Sep 9, 2013

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, 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 Akiy

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Jazz Unlimited Sunday evening, September 1 will present “Great Jazz Soloists-Part 4.”   The great soloists highlighted in this program will be violinist Stephane Grappelli, saxophonists Paul Gonsalves, Charles Lloyd, Archie Shepp, Arthur Blythe, Dexter Gordon, James Moody, Sonny Stitt, Branford Marsalis, Ravi Coltrane, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Anthony Braxton; clarinettist Don Byron, trumpeters Dave Douglas, Terell Stafford, and Clark Terry; pianists Dave Brubeck, Jason Moran, Mulgrew Miller, Brad Mehldau, Fred Hersch, Jacky Terrason and Jessica Williams; vibists Joe Locke and Stefon Harris,

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Jazz Unlimited Sunday evening, August 25 will present “Kansas City Piano and New Music.”   The Quieter Side of Jazz will feature blues and boogie woogie music from Kansas City pianists Count Basie, Mary Lou Williams, Jay McShann, Pete Johnson, Julia Lee and Sammy Price.  The new music for August will include music by Leo’s Five, Ambrose Akinmusire, Jay Clayton, Tootie Heath, The Clayton Brothers, Ptah Williams’ Trio, Rich Thompson, Kris Davis, The Bad Plus, Jan Garbarek and Wayne Shorter.

Check out my images of some of the musicians in the Slide Show.

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Jazz Unlimited  for Sunday, August 18 will present  “The Great Jazz Soloists-Part 3.”  A great jazz solo is awe-inspiring, exciting, emotional and always tells a story.  In the entire history of jazz, there are only a few soloists who are consistently capable of a great solo in every performance.  Jazz Unlimited will play these musicians over the next few weeks.  The artists for August 18 are Art Tatum, Slam Stewart, Charlie Christian, Artie Shaw, Buddy DeFranco, Wes Montgomery, Roy Eldridge, Kenny Barron, Regina Carter, Zoot Sims, Bobby Hutcherson, McCoy Tyner, Lennie Tristano, Warne Marsh

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday evening, August 11 will be “The Great Jazz Soloists-Part 2.” A great jazz solo is awe-inspiring, exciting, emotional and always tells a story.  In the entire history of jazz, there are only a few soloists who are consistently capable of a great solo in every performance.  Jazz Unlimited will play these musicians over the next few weeks.  The artists for August 11 will be Joe “King” Oliver, Fats Waller, Bix Beiderbecke, Django Reinhardt, Coleman Hawkins, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Johnny Hodges, Stuff Smith, Pee Wee Russell, Serge Chaloff, Paul Desmond, Jim Hall, Ra

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On the August 4, 2013 edition of Jazz Unlimited, we begin a four part series highlighting the great jazz soloists.  A great jazz solo is awe-inspiring, exciting, emotional and always tells a story.  In the entire history of jazz, there may be less than 140 soloists who are consistently capable of a great solo in nearly every performance.  We will hear some of them spotlighted tonight.  The musicians featured include Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw.

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday evening, July 28, the quieter side of jazz will present the rollicking music of Thomas “Fats” Waller.  It will be interpreted by Fats himself and pianists James P. Johnson, Earl Hines, Dick Hyman and St.

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Jazz Unlimited for July 21 will feature “Music from the Newport and Monterey Jazz Festivals-Part Two”   The Newport and Monterey Jazz Festivals are the longest running jazz festivals in history.  Newport was founded in 1954 and Monterey in 1957.  Newport was wracked by riots in 1960, 1970 and 1974 and was canceled for a time and was moved to New York City for a time in the 1970’s.  The riots were caused by drunken young people who were attracted to the festival when they added popular rock groups.  Monterey has run uninterrupted for 55 years with its make-up of mainly straight ahead jazz an

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Jazz Unlimited Sunday evening, July 14 will have “Music from the Newport and Monterey Jazz Festivals-Part One”   The Newport and Monterey Jazz Festivals are the longest running jazz festivals in history.  Newport was founded in 1954 and Monterey in 1957.  Newport was wracked by riots in 1960, 1970 and 1974, was canceled for a time and moved to New York City for a time in the 1970’s.  The riots were caused by drunken young people who were attracted to the festivals when they added popular rock groups to boost attendance.  Monterey has run uninterrupted for 55 years with its make-up of mainly

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The Jazz Unlimited show for Sunday, July 7 will feature music from “The Career of Bassist Leroy Vinnegar.”  Leroy Vinnegar was born in Indianapolis in 1928.  He made it to Los Angeles in 1954 and became a fixture on the scene there, working as both a performing artist and a studio musician, playing on over 600 recordings.  Vinnegar was know for his big sound and walking bass lines interspersed with “double stops” to provide grace notes and rhythmic interest.  During his career he was heard most notably with Shelly Manne, Andre Previn, les McCann, Teddy Edwards, Harold Land and his hometown

More New Music

Jun 18, 2013
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The June 23 Jazz Unlimited show will have new music featuring a duet between pianists Jaki Byard and Tommy Flanagan, vocalist Ben Sidran, pianists Joey Calderazzo, Monty Alexander and Keith Jarrett, alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, the Jim Widner Big Band and a five part Suite called "Hagar’s Song" by Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran.

The slide show has images of some of the musicians heard on this show.

This Archive of the 6/23/13 show will be available until Monday morning 7/1/13

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Jazz Unlimited for June 16 will feature tributes to the late Mulgrew Miller and the late Ed Shaughnessy.  In addition, there will be new music featuring Dave Douglas, Gerald Clayton, Lionel Loueke, Freddy Cole, Ian Dogole, the Bad Plus, Jack DeJohnette, Grant Green, John and Ravi Coltrane, Charles Lloyd and St. Louisans Keith Moyer, James “Jabbo” Ware and Jim Widner and his Big Band.

The Slide Show contains images of some of the artists heard on tonight's show.

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On the March 31 Jazz Unlimited show, we will present jazz giants born in March and April.  Some of the artists include Bix Beiderbecke, Billie Holiday, Lionel Hampton, Sarah Vaughan, Nat "King" Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Henderson, Pee Wee Russell, Carmen McRae and Michael Brecker.

Check out my photos of Michael Brecker, Brad Mehldau and John Pattitucci on the slide show.

Here is a video of Lionel Hampton (introduced by Patti Page) playing "Flying Home" in 1957.

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On the March 24 Jazz Unlimited, we will feature the quieter side of jazz (jazz without horns) and new music.  Some of the artists featured are Duke Ellington, Nat "King" Cole, Herbie Hancock, Gary Burton, Lennie Tristano, Willie Akins, Montez Coleman, Gregory Porter, Patricia Barber, the group Old Time Musketry, Patricia Barber, Charles Mingus, the Wayne Shorter "without a safety net" quartet and the Vijay Iyer Trio

Check out the slide show to find images of some of the musicians heard on this show.

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The March 17, 2013 Jazz Unlimited show will feature jazz artists with major birthdays.  They include some major artists such as pioneering trombonist Miff Mole (115), cornetist Bix Beiderbecke (110), vibist Red Norvo, composer, arranger, producer Quincy Jones (80), guitarist George Benson (70), saxophonist Charles Lloyd (75) and pianist Cecil Taylor (80).  The music played will span the years 1927-2004.

Check out the photos of some of the artists heard on the show.

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The March 10, Jazz Unlimited will be devoted to an examination of tunes about money.  Money is what fuels St. Louis Public Radio.  Some of the srtists to be heard to night include Muggsy Sprecher recorded live at the Silver Dollar Club on Gaslight Square, Ahmad Jamal, J.J. Johnson, Count Basie with Buddy DeFranco, Art Tatum, Phil Woods, Cannonball Adderley, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Jay McShann and the World Saxophone Quartet.

Check out my photos of some of the artists heard on the show.

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On the March 3. 2013 Jazz Unlimited Show, we will hear musicians who were born or nurtured early in their careers in Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh is know as a city that sends great pianists out into the world of jazz.  Many of these musicians go through the Westinghouse High School music program.  Some of the Pittsburgers heard on tonight tonight's show include pianists Earl Hines, Dodo Marmarosa, Erroll Garner, Billy Strayhorn, Sonny Clark, Mary Lou Williams and Ahmad Jamal, trumpeters Roy Eldridge and (now St.

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On February 4, our feature The Quieter Side of Jazz will have music by pianists Elmo Hope, Herbie Nichols, and Jay McShann and drummers Kenny Clarke, Frank Butler and Max Roach.  The second hour will consist of an interview with music with Marc Myers, author of the book, "Why Jazz Happened" (University of California Press).  Myers discusses the technological, business and social currents that made jazz what it became in the 1940's through the late 1960's.  The final hour of the show will feature new music with Joe Lovano, the SF Jazz Collective, Chris Potter, David Liebman and his daughter

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Some jazz greats have major birthdays in February.  The February  Jazz Unlimited show will include reed players John Handy, Buddy DeFranco, Harold Land and Dexter Gordon and many others.  In addition we will have a tribute to jazz great Donald Byrd, who passed away February 4.

Check out my photos of some of the musicians heard on tonight's show.

>> Playlist

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On the Sunday, February 10 Jazz Unlimited, we continue our series on urban centers that have brought great musicians to jazz by having teachers and institutions that bring them into the music at an early age.  The Jazz Cities series will feature the second part on musicians born in or nurtured early in their careers in Chicago.  Some of the musicians and groups featured will be blues pianist Jimmy Yancey, pianist Joe Sullivan, cornetist Muggsy Spanier, the Benny Goodman quartet with Lionel Hampton and Gene Krupa, vocalists Kurt Elling, Johnny Hartman, Abbey Lincoln and Patricia Barber, The

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

On the Sunday, February 3 Jazz Unlimited, we continue our series on urban centers that have brought great musicians to jazz by having teachers and institutions that bring them into the music at an early age.  The Jazz Cities series will feature musicians born in or nurtured early in their careers in Chicago.  Some of the musicians include Joe "King" Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, Earl Hines, Nat "King" Cole, Denny Zeitlin, Johnny Griffin, Junior Mance, Eddie Harris, Henry Threadgill, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Herbie Hancock, Anita O'Day and Andrew Hill.

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Jazz musicians occasionally use classical music themes for improvisation.  On the January 28, 2013 edition of Jazz Unlimited, the first hour will have music by Bach, Villa Lobos, Mozart, Pachelbel, Rachmaninov, Dvorak and Rodrigo played without horns.  The second hours will present new music with Dizzy Gillespie, Dena DeRose, Art Pepper, Marcus Roberts, Hal Russell and others.

>> Playlist

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The January 20 Jazz Unlimited show will present musicians who have major birthdays.  Most have passed on, while some are still going strong in their careers.  The musicians and their ages are as follows: vibists Milt Jackson (90) and Gary Burton (70), trumpeters Henry "Red" Allen (105) and "Hot Lips" Page (105) , guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli (85), reed players Haywood Henry (100) and Billy Harper (70), violinist Stephane Grappelli (105),  bassists Steve Gilmore (70) and Curtis Counce (90), and drummers Barry Altschul (70) and Osie Johnson (90).

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The Jazz Unlimited show for January 13 is part of a series on listening to musicians who were born or nurtured in specific urban centers.  This is the second of two parts on Detroit and its environs.  On tonight's show the featured musicians include pianists Johnny O'Neal, Ross Tompkins, Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Carlos McKinney and Geri Allen, trumpeter and composer/arranger Thad Jones, saxophonists, Wardell Gray, Billy Mitchell, Pepper Adams and Hal Russell, drummers Louis Hayes, Alvester Garnett, Elvin Jones and Roy Brooks, violinist Regina Carter, bassists Ron Carter, Paul Chambers an

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The Jazz Unlimited show for January 6 will begin a series on listening to musicians who were born or nurtured in specific urban centers.  This is the first of two parts on Detroit and its environs.  On tonight's show the featured musicians include guitarist Kenny Burrell.

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On the Sunday, December 23 edition of Jazz Unlimited, we celebrate the return of the sunlight and some of the celebrations around the Winter Solstice.  Specifically, the music will reflect the Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanza traditions.  The artists on the show include Pieces of Eight with Debby Lennon, Herbie Mann, Jess Stacy, Don Byron, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Dexter Gordon, Randy Weston, The Jim McNeely Tentette, Count Basie, John Coltrane with Eric Dolphy, Duke Ellington, The Kronos Quartet.  A special feature is the reading of the Clement Moore poem "The Night Before Christmas" by Loui

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Due to music recording copyright laws, the music from this show is no longer available. Music is posted for two weeks after a show airs.

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