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 2016 marks his 33rd anniversary presenting jazz on St. Louis Public Radio. He celebrated his 25th anniversary with a mayoral proclamation of a Dennis Owsley Day on January 24, 2008. He received the Millard S. Cohen Lifetime Achievement Award from St. Louis Public Radio in 2010 and was named a Jazz Hero of St. Louis by the Jazz Journalists Association. Jazz Unlimited won the Riverfront Times' Best of St. Louis Award in the "Best Jazz Show" category six times.

Nearly all the music heard on Jazz Unlimited is from Owsley's personal collection. He has 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.
He produced a radio documentary in 1986 that led to that book.  That documentary was produced again and expanded in 2013, the second-longest music documentary in radio history.

Please email jazz@stlpublicradio.org with your suggestions, requests, or comments, including if you would like to receive a pdf version of any playlists.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for November 27, 2016 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The Quieter Side of Jazz will feature a dozen solo piano players playing a style known as stride piano.  They were recorded over the years from 1921 to 1993.  Some of these pianists are James P.

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Jazz Unlimited  for Sunday, November 20, 2016 is “The Career of Matt Wilson.”  Drummer Matt Wilson, who hails from Knoxville, Illinois, is one of the great drummers in today’s jazz.  In addition, his persona is one of sly humor, which shows up in the titles of his compositions and stage manner.  We will hear him with his Arts & Crafts, his Big Happy Family group, Deena DeRose, Dawn Clement, the Palmetto All-Stars, the Either/Orchestra, Marty Ehrlich, Karrin Allyson, Denny Zeitlin, the Herbie Nichols Project, Bob Stewart, Dewey Redman, John Medeski and the Liberation music orche

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Jazz Unlimited for November 13, 2016 will be “Re-Imagining of Familiar Tunes.”  Great Jazz musicians are constantly re-imagining tunes in their own style.  We will examine three famous tunes, “King Porter Stomp,” “St.

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, November 6, 2016 will be “The Compositions of Jerome Kern.”  Composer Jerome Kern was one of the first to bring jazz rhythms and harmonies to theater music.  Paradoxically, he did not like jazz musicians arranging his music for their own performances.  But, jazz musicians like his tunes and are still using them as a basis for improvisation up until today.  We will hear music from Art Pepper, Ella Fitzgerald, St.

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Jazz Unlimited for October 30 is “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, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Milt Jackson, Clifford Brown, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Oscar Pettiford, Dave Holland, Ray Brown, Oliver Lake, Jelly Roll Morton, Sonny Rollins, Art Pepper and Gerald Wilson.

The Slide Show contains my photographs of some of the musicians heard on tonight's show.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for October 23, 2016 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”   The “Keys and Strings Hour” or jazz without horns will present some compositions of Thelonious Monk played by Tal Farlow, Kenny Barron & Dave Holland, Joe Pass, Organ Monk, Chick Corea, Jacky Terrasson and Chick Corea & Hiromi.  New music for October will include St.

The Art of Blakey

Oct 16, 2016

Jazz Unlimited for October 16, 2016 is “The Art of Blakey.”  Born un Pittsburgh in 1919, drummer Art Blakey began his career with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra in 1939 and made his first recordings with the Billy Eckstine Band in 1944.  A tireless messenger for jazz he has said, “To pass through life and miss this music is to miss out on one of the best things about living” and "This is the music of my culture good, bad or indifferent. No America - No Jazz.

Kansas Citians

Oct 8, 2016

Jazz Unlimited for October 9 will be preempted in the first hour by the Presidential debate and will resume at  10 pm for “Kansas Citians.”  Not only was it an important the center of a great period in jazz, but also Kansas City and its environs were and remain a nurturing place for the careers of many jazz musicians, including Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Pat Metheny, Karrin Allyson and others.  Please note that the first hour of this show will be pre-empted by the Presidential debate.  You can catch the first hour of the show by going the Archive  starting on Monday

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Jazz Unlimited for October 2, 2116 will be “Adderley Compositions.”  The Adderley brothers, Cannonball and Nat, were not only world-class jazz instrumentalists, but also were composers of attractive tunes like “Sack O’ Woe,” “Work Song” and “The Jive Samba.”  We will hear their compositions played by themselves, Ray Bryant, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Paul Chambers and Wynton Kelly, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, our own Kenny Rice, James Clay, the Louis Hayes Quintet, Antonio Hart, Quincy Jones, J.J.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The September 25  Jazz Unlimited show will be a three-part show.  The “Keys and Strings Hour “ will feature pianist Gene Harris in the first hour.  The second hour will be “Remembering Toots Thielemans.”  The Belgian harmonica player and sometime guitarist will be heard with George Shearing, Cleo Laine, Kenny Werner, Mongo Santamaria, Judy Niemack and Joe Lovano.  New music for September in the third hour will feature Tim Warfield, John Scofield, the Bad Plus, the pianist Lang Lang, Enrico Pieranunzi, a duet between Andrew Cyrille and Bill McHenry and Quest.

The Heath Brothers

Sep 19, 2016
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Jazz Unlimited for September 26, 2016 is “The Heath Brothers.”  The Philadelphia-born Heath brothers, bassist Percy (1923-2005), saxophonist, arranger, composer Jimmy Heath (born 1926) and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath (born 1935) have been a force in jazz since the late 1940’s to the 1950’s up to the present.  They will be heard as individuals and with each other in a variety of musical contexts with King Pleasure, Bobby Timmons, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Wes Montgomery, Paul Desmond, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Red Garland, Sonny Rollins, Nina Simone, Thelonious Monk, Cecil Payne

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Jazz Unlimited for September 11, 2016 will be “Remembering Bobby Hutcherson.”  Vibes and marimba player Bobby Hutcherson was born in Los Angeles, California in 1941 and was raised in the suburb of Pasadena.  His first recording was with Les McCann in 1960.  He worked with Curtis Amy and Gerald Wilson before moving to New York in 1963.  He recorded for Blue Note on many classic albums and was active until 2015, dying August 15 of this year from emphysema.  In addition to the aforementioned artists, Hutcherson will be heard with our own Grant Green, Abbey Lincoln, Andrew Hill with ou

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Jazz Unlimited will feature “John Coltrane in His Own Words and Music,” on Sunday. Jazz Unlimited airs from 9 p.m. to midnight, on St. Louis Public Radio, 90.7 FM.

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Jazz Unlimited for August 28, 2016 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The Keys and Strings hour for August will present the quieter side of jazz with four female modern jazz pianists: Lynne Arriale with new music from Geri Allen, Hiromi, and Renee Rosnes.  New music with Dr.

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Jazz Unlimited for August 21, 2016 is “The Music of McCoy Tyner.”  Pianist McCoy Tyner has been a powerful presence since he was part of the classic John Coltrane quartet from 1960 to 1965, but his uniqueness and artistry have been overshadowed by that tenure.  We will focus on his performances and compositions without Coltrane to bring his unique style of harmony and rhythm to Jazz Unlimited.  Tyner will be heard with Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, Grant Green, the Jazztet, Freddie Hubbard, a Blue Note All-Star group and Wayne Shorter.  His compositions will be played by the Blue

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Jazz Unlimited for August 14, 2016 will be “The Career of Teddy Edwards.”  Tenor saxophonist Teddy Edwards would have been better known had he lived in New York.  His 58-year playing career was mostly in the Los Angeles area.  He was a soloist with his own groups, the big bands of Gerald Wilson, Onzy Matthews and Joe Castro and worked in studios.  In addition to the above, he will be heard with his own quartet and tentette, Howard McGhee, Dexter Gordon, Helen Humes, Benny Carter, Frank Butler, the first Brown-Roach Inc.

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Jazz Unlimited for August 7, 2016 will be “The Career of Louis Hayes.”  Drummer Louis Hayes was born in Detroit in 1937 to a musical family and was leading a group in Detroit clubs by age 16.

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Jazz Unlimited for July 31, 2016 will be “Jazz Giants for July and August.”  Throughout its history, certain key musicians have heavily influenced the course of jazz. This month, the musicians will include Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Lester Young, Charlie Christian, Jack Teagarden, Benny Carter, Bill Evans, Abbey Lincoln, Johnny Hodges, Hank Jones, Kenny Burrell, Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, Charlie Haden, Lee Morgan Steve Lacy and Albert Ayler.  The music heard will span 76 years of jazz.

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Jazz Unlimited for July 24, 2016 will be “Mel Lewis and Big Bands.”  Tonight’s show is an all big band presentation of the great drummer Mel Lewis in his element.  Lewis was born in Buffalo in 1929 to immigrant parents.  He came to the West Coast with Stan Kenton in 1957 and stayed until 1963, when he moved to New York.  His drumming style was supportive of a band, rather than pushing it.  In 1965, Lewis and Thad Jones founded the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, one of the greatest big bands in jazz history.  The band played Monday nights at the Village Vanguard and toured all over

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Jazz Unlimited July 17, 2016 for “Joe Mancuso and Dave Black Interview + New Music.”  St.

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Jazz Unlimited for July 10, 2016 is “The Music of Benny Golson.”  Tenor saxophonist, composer and arranger Benny Golson was born in 1929 in Philadelphia and is still performing at age 87.  He is best known for the Jazztet and his compositions like “Killer Joe,” “I Remember Clifford,” “Blues March,” “Whisper Not,” “Stablemates” and “Along Came Betty,” among others.  Groups heard on this show are the Phineas Newborn, Jr.

Live From Montreux

Jul 3, 2016
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Jazz Unlimited for June 3, 2016 will be “Live at Montreux.”  The Montreux Jazz Festival celebrates its 50th year this July.  It is the most recorded jazz festival in the world.  Unlike many jazz festivals, Montreux is not afraid of the avant-garde.  “Live at Montreux” will feature music from Ella Fitzgerald, Monty Alexander, Les McCann & Eddie Harris, Ray Bryant, Abdullah Ibrahim, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, the Art Blakey Big Band. Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Albert Mangelsdorff, Don Pullen’s African/Brazillian Connection, Ahmad Jamal.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited June 26, 2016 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The Quieter Side of Jazz will feature pianist, composer and bandleader Chick Corea along with Gary Burton in music ranging from piano trios, a piano-vibes duet and a quintet.  In addition, new music from Steve Davis, Russell Malone, Rene Marie, Warren Wolf, Geoff Keezer, Steve Swallow, the Frank Lowe Saxemble, the power trio of David Murray, Geri Allen and Terri Lynne Carrington, Anthony Braxton, Joe Manieri, and William Parker will be heard in the last two hours. 

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday June 19 is “The Compositions of Charles Mingus.”  Bassist/composer Charles Mingus’s work reflected his experiences as a mixed race man who identified himself as black.  Known as the angry man of jazz, his music was influenced by the black church, classical music, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington and was concerned throughout his career with civil rights and relationships.  We will hear his compositions played by his own groups, Dave Brubeck, Mingus Dynasty, Judy Niemack & Mal Waldron, Marty Ehrlich, The Mingus Big Band, Bob Stewart, George Adams, Junko

The Clayton Family

Jun 12, 2016
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Jazz Unlimited for June 12, 2016 will be “The Clayton Family.”  The Clayton Brothers, Jeff (reeds), John (bass) and John’s son Gerald (piano) are world-class jazz musicians, studio musicians, educators, multiple Grammy nominees and music directors for a number of jazz festivals.  We will hear them with the Clayton Brothers Quintet, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Monty Alexander, Count Basie, Don and Alicia Cunningham, Gene Harris, Milt Jackson, Superbass, Chie Imaizumi, the Gerald Clayton Trio, Ambrose Aikinmusire and Kurt Elling.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, June 5, 2016 will be “The Career of Milt Jackson.”  Vibraphonist Milt Jackson (1923-1999) was born in Detroit and started playing guitar at age seven and piano at age 11.  His music came from the church.  Dizzy Gillespie discovered him in 1945.  Best known for his long tenure with the Modern Jazz Quartet, his career in jazz spanned 54 performing years with artists that ranged from Ray Charles and Woody Herman to Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane.   In addition to his own groups, we will bear Jackson with Fats Navarro, Cole

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Jazz Unlimited for May 29, 2016 is “Jazz Giants for May and June.”  Throughout its history, certain key players have heavily influenced the course of jazz.  These key players are the ones that lesser players imitate and copy.  Jazz Unlimited always plays the Jazz Giants instead of the imitators.  Jazz Giants heard on this show include the King Oliver Creole Jazz with Louis Armstrong, The New Orleans Feetwarmers with Sidney Bechet and Tommy Ladnier, Frank Trumbauer with Biz Beiderbecke, Fats Waller, Paul Barbarin, Benny Goodman with Georgie Auld, the Lennie Niehaus Octet, the Freddi

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, May 22, 2016 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The Quieter Side of Jazz will present John Lewis, a pianist and composer whose style resided at the nexus of jazz and classical music.  We will hear him in settings ranging from the blues (“Pyramid” [“Blues for Junior”]) to Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez.”  New music will feature a recording of our own Clark Terry and Ernie Wilkins that has a vocal from Dexter Gordon, the Brazilian Trio Da Paz, Florida pianist Lynne Arriale, Philadelphian Duane Eubanks and DE3, Sonny Rollins’ latest

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Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, May 15, 2016 will be “The Music of Mary Lou Williams.”  Piano prodigy Mary Lou Williams taught herself piano at the age of six and was playing professionally by age seven.  Discovered in Kansas City in 1929, she wrote hundreds of compositions and arrangements for many bands as well as playing powerful jazz piano.  In the early 1950’s, she became a devout Catholic and wrote three masses (two unrecorded).  Her “Mass for Peace,” also known as “Mary Lou’s Mass,” was commissioned by the Pontifical Commission on Peace and Justice in March of 1969.  We will hear

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Jazz Unlimited for May 8, 2016 will be  “Compositions Associated with Miles Davis.”  Trumpeter Miles Davis was one of the most important and innovative figures in jazz from 1947 until his death in 1991.  But, throughout his career and up until today, the provenance of some of the compositions he claimed as his have been in dispute.  We will hear his compositions along with those that are in dispute.  They will be played by Miles himself, Charlie Parker, Ray Bryant, J.J.

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