Jazz Unlimited

Sundays evenings, from 9-12.

Jazz Unlimited is a unique weekly radio show covering the continuum of jazz from Louis Armstrong to Lester Bowie. Each show is scripted and is based on a theme to provide the broadest coverage of the music.

Host Dennis Owsley has been a jazz album collector, aficionado, and historian since 1958 and has seen most of the major artists in jazz in live performance. April 2013 marks his 30th anniversary presenting jazz on St. Louis Public Radio. 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. >> See his photographs.

Owsley wrote an award-winning book, City of Gabriels—The Jazz History of St. Louis 1895-1973.

Jazz Unlimited won the Riverfront Times' Best of St. Louis Award in the "Best Jazz Show" category six out of the past eight years. He produced a radio documentary in 1986 that led to that book.  That documentary will be produced again and expanded during all of April and part of May 2013.

Owsley wrote an article for St. Louis Magazine about John Coltrane: Dennis Owsley on Watching Coltrane Play...

Please email jazz@stlpublicradio.org with your suggestions, requests, or comments.

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Jazz Unlimited
1:18 pm
Sun September 21, 2014

The Music Of John Coltrane

McCoy Tyner-1999
Dennis C. Owsley Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for September 21 will be “The Music of John Coltrane.”  Saxophonist John Coltrane had the most formidable technique in jazz history.  His influence was so strong that for decades after his death, many saxophonists would base their work on just a six month period of his development.  This show will present music that Coltrane recorded and composed after his spiritual awakening in 1957 that was part of his recovery from heroin use.  Coltrane will be featured with his classic quartet, his quintet with Eric Dolphy, the Africa/Brass big band and with vocalist Johnny Hartman.  Play

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Jazz Unlimited
10:25 am
Sat September 13, 2014

Remembering Charlie Haden

Hank Jones-2987
Dennis C. Owsley Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, September 14 will be “Remembering Charlie Haden.”  Bassist Charlie Haden was born in Shenandoah, Iowa in 1937 and was raised on a farm.  His family members were musicians who played country and folk music and were on the radio with their own show.  Haden began singing with the group by the age of two and continued until the age of 15 when he contracted polio, turning to bass when he could no longer sing.  He heard classical bass on the radio and became interested in jazz.  He turned down a scholarship to Oberlin College because they had no jazz program.  Charlie m

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Jazz Unlimited
12:00 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

The Jazz History Of St. Louis-Part 10: The Late 2000's And Current Times

Rob & Mike Silverman-2011
Dennis C. Owsley Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The Sunday, September 7 Jazz Unlimited show will be “The Jazz History of St. Louis-Part 10: The Late 2000’s and Current Times.”  Even during the Great Recession, Jazz at the Bistro thrived, bringing in nationally known groups and giving work to local St. Jazz musicians.  Recordings kept being made and both Kim Portnoy and Paul DeMarinis included poetry in their latest recordings.  Dixieland jazz continued to be heard at St. Louis Jazz Club meetings and occasionally at the Sheldon.  Music on this show will be from The St.

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Jazz Unlimited
12:00 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

The Jazz History Of St. Louis-Part 9: The Early 2000's

Tom Byrne-2002
Dennis C. Owsley Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The Jazz Unlimited Sunday, August 31, will be the “Jazz History of St. Louis-Part 9: The Early 2000’s.”  Even though 9/11 put fear into the nation, the St. Louis jazz scene continued to revive until the Great Recession that started in 2007.  After that, gigs were few and far between for several years.  Jazz at the Bistro became one of the great jazz clubs in the world.  The Sheldon continued to bring local and national groups into St. Louis.  The City Bank St. Louis Jazz Festival was in Shaw Park from 2001 to 2008.  Bill Becker’s Victoria Company continued to document St.

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Jazz Unlimited
12:00 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

The Jazz History Of St. Louis-Part 8: The 1990s-Rebuilding The Scene

Asa Harris-2002
Dennis C. Owsley Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The Jazz Unlimited on Sunday, August 24 will be  “The Jazz History of St. Louis-Part 8: The 1990s-Rebuilding the Scene.”  The 1990’s were a period of rebuilding.  The jazz studies programs at Webster University and SIU-E were firmly entrenched.

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Jazz Unlimited
12:00 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

The Jazz History Of St. Louis-Part 7: The 1970’s And 1980’s: Dark Times And Rebirth

Paul DeMarinis-1978
Dennis C. Owsley Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

On the August 17 Jazz Unlimited show, we will find out that the jazz scene in St. Louis went through a dark time and the beginnings of a rebirth in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  College and high school jazz programs began and Charlie Menees brought a traditional jazz and swing program to KWMU.  The 1986 University City High School sent their jazz band to the Montreux Jazz Festival and all the member of the 1987 Todd Williams Quintet went on to solid professional careers.  A small group of experimentalists was still in St.

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Jazz Unlimited
12:00 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

The Jazz History Of St. Louis-Part 6: The Black Artists' Group and the Human Arts Association

The Bag House-1969
Photo by John Emerich

The Sunday, August 10 edition of Jazz Unlimited will present Part Six of the Jazz History of St. Louis: The Black Artists' Group and Human Arts Association (1968-1974).   The BAG period in St. Louis is the second time that St. Louis music had an influence nationally.  The first time was the Ragtime Era around 1900.  When the St. Louis musicians got to New York, they helped change the way jazz and other allied music was played for the next twenty years.  We will hear almost all of the recordings made in St. Louis by these experimentalists.

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Jazz Unlimited
12:00 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

The Jazz History Of St. Louis-Part 5: The Gaslight Square Period

Gaslight Square Poster
Unknown Courtesy of the Charlie Menees Collection, UMKC

On Sunday, August 3, Jazz Unlimited will present Part Five of the Jazz History of St. Louis: The Gaslight Square Era.  Gaslight Square is one of the cultural events never to be forgotten by St. Louisans.  Jazz music of all styles was heard there.  We will hear Sammy Gardner, Singleton Palmer, Muggsy Sprecher, the St. Louis Ragtimers, Ceil Clayton, Clea Bradford, Jeanne Trevor and the Quartet Tres Bien, among many others, along with the voices of people like Jeter Thompson, Norman Menne, Jean Kittrell and Joe Buerger, who made the history.

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Jazz Unlimited
12:00 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

The Jazz History Of St. Louis-Part 4: The 1950's

Bob Graf at Peacock Alley
Bernie Thrasher Courtesy Euclid Records

The Jazz Unlimited Sunday, July 27 show will be “The Jazz History of St. Louis, Part 4: The 1950’s.”  The period saw the founding of the St.

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Jazz Unlimited
12:00 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

The Jazz History of St. Louis-Part 3: World War II and It's Aftermath

Charlie Menees 1970's
Photographer Unknown Courtesy of the Menees family

Jazz Unlimited on Sunday, July 20 will feature “The Jazz History of St. Louis, Part 3: World War II and Its Aftermath."  The period saw the formation of the George Hudson Orchestra and the early careers of Miles Davis, Clark Terry, Jimmy Forrest, Ernie Wilkins, Charles Fox, Chris Woods, Velma Middleton and Arvell Shaw.  Some of the rare recordings include the recording debut of Wendell Marshall, two tunes recorded by Jimmy Forrest at the Bolo Club, a recording by the Tommy Dean Band, a V-disc recording by Clark Terry and His Section Eights, a recording made in St.

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