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 December 8 will be “Live Jazz from The Blue Note, Iridium, Jazz Standard and In Time Cafe.”  We continue playing live music from the jazz capital of the world with recordings made in jazz clubs, where the interaction between the audience and the players takes both to new heights.  Tonight’s show features music from Oscar Peterson, Carmen McRae, the Charles Tolliver Big Band, Monty Alexander, Conrad Herwig’s “Latin Side of…” ensembles, Kenny Barron & Charlie Haden, Von Freeman, John Scofield, the Mingus Big Band, the Keith Jarrett Standards Trio, Jacky Terrasson, Elvin

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, December 1st will be “Live Jazz from Town Hall, New York City.”  We continue playing live music from the jazz capital of the world with concerts from Town Hall that span the years 1944 to 1990.  The artists featured are Eddie Condon and His All-Stars, Louis Armstrong and the All-Stars, the Dizzy Gillespie-Charlie Parker Quintet, four pieces from a Baron Timmie Rosenkranz concert in 1945, which includes the classic “I Got Rhythm” duet of Don Byas and Slam Stewart, Mary Lou Williams’ “Zodiac Suite,” Benny Carter, Red Norvo and Teddy Wilson, Thelonious Monk, the Chic

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Jazz Unlimited Sunday, November 19 will feature" Piano Duets and New Music.” Piano duets are somewhat rare in jazz because the of fact that each piano has 88 keys and is simultaneously a solo, a rhythm and a harmony instrument.  Each player must listen carefully to the other to avoid a “train wreck” in any one of these three areas.  Only the best can do this effectively.  The first hour will feature nine duets between Chick Corea & Herbie Hancock, Tommy Flanagan & Hank Jones, Oscar Peterson & Benny Green and others.  The second and third hours will feature new music from Elliott

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Jazz Unlimited on Sunday, November 17 will be “A Tribute to Frank Wess and Live Jazz From Carnegie Hall-Part 2.”  Frank Wess, who brought the flute into the big band lexicon in 1954 with Count Basie, died October 30 at the age of 91.  We will celebrate his career and also listen to live music from Carnegie Hall that spans the years 1943 to 2005.  In addition to Wess, some of the artists featured during this show include Joe Newman, Count Basie, the Wess-Edison Orchestra, Kenny Burrell, Hank Jones, Buddy Rich, Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Parker, John Lewis, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Woody

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Jazz Unlimited Sunday, November 10  will be “Live Jazz From Carnegie Hall-Part 1.”  While Carnegie Hall opened in 1881, jazz was not heard there until 1938, when Benny Goodman had the first jazz concert.  Since then many jazz concerts have been held there and some were recorded.  In the years since 1938, Carnegie Hall has hosted three of John Hammond’s “Spiritual to Swing” concerts with Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian, Big Joe Turner and Lester Young; Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts with Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Flip Phillips and Oscar P

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, November 3 will present some of the nearly sixty year career of valve trombonist, pianist, composer, arranger and teacher Bob Brookmeyer.  He has played with, arranged and composed for such people as Terry Gibbs, Clark Terry, the Birdland Dream Band, the Gerry Mulligan Quartet and Sextet, Stan Getz, the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, the Jimmy Giuffre Three, his own New Art Orchestra as well as his own small groups.  The show will include work by such artists as pianists Roger Kellaway and Hank Jones, saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Al Cohn, Richie Kamuca, Bill Per

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Jazz Unlimited on Sunday, October 27 will feature some compositions of saxophonists Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins on the "Keys and Strings Hour."  These two jazz giants have written a number of compositions that are played by horn players, but rarely by piano players.  The quieter side of jazz will present the compositions that piano players play.  The artists playing these compositions will be Tommy Flanagan, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Grant Green with Sonny Clark, Milt Jackson with Wes Montgomery, Keith Jarrett, Phineas Newborn, Jr.

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Jazz Unlimited for October 20 will be “The Career of Drummer Lewis Nash.” Born in 1958 in Phoenix, Arizona, Nash was a professional by 1976.  He moved to New York in 1981 and has become one of the most recorded drummers in jazz, even surpassing the recordings of Art Blakey and Max Roach, according to the Tom Lord Discography.  We will present about five percent of his recorded output on Jazz Unlimited.  Nash is a drummer for all styles and seasons, being equally at home in styles that range from swing to bebop, hard bop, free bop and structured abstract improvisation.  We will feature him w

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Jazz Unlimited for October 13 will be “Classical Themes in Jazz-Part 2.” There are a lot of connections to jazz from classical music.  Most of today’s musicians are as well versed in classical music as in jazz.  Since the beginning, classical themes have crept into the jazz lexicon.  The show will feature themes by Bach, Ravel, Brahms, Lizst, Mozart, Lehar, DeFalla, Chopin, Scarlatti, Johan Strauss, Verdi, Gershwin, Vaughan-Williams, Rachmaninoff, Offenbach, Dvorak, and Ravel.  The musicians include “Hot Lips” Page, the Nat “King” Cole Trio, Art Tatum, The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Bach to t

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Jazz Unlimited  for October 6 will be “Classical Themes in Jazz.” There are a lot of connections to jazz from classical music.  Most of today’s musicians are as well versed in classical music as in jazz.  Since the beginning, classical themes have crept into the jazz lexicon.  The show will feature themes by Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Bach, Rimsky-Korsakov, Debussy, Dvorak, Ravel, Borodin and Stravinsky, among other composers.  The musicians include the John Kirby Sextet, the Nat “King” Cole Trio, Charlie Ventura, Don Byron, Duke Ellington, the Modern Jazz Quartet,

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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

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Jazz Unlimited on Sunday evening, September 15 will feature “John Coltrane in His Own Words and Music.”   During his career, John Coltrane gave only a few interviews to jazz journalists.  He was a quiet, humble man who was very guarded.  Until now, only transcripts existed of these interviews.  Two well-known interviews with August Blume (1958) and Frank Kofsky (1966) have recently been issued in audio form.  These interviews, along with a short 1960 audio interview from Stockholm and a short 1966 interview from Japan will provide a different look at this jazz giant.  In addition, we will p

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

Dennis C. Ows;ey / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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.

Dennis C. Ows;ey / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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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