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 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
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

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.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, May 1, 2016 will be “The Career of Jimmy Cobb.”  Best known for his associations with Miles Davis and the Wynton Kelly Trio, drummer Jimmy Cobb is now 87 and still going strong.  He was born in Washington D.C.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, April 24, will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.” The Keys and Strings hour will feature pianist Keith Jarrett, one of the most amazing improvisers in jazz, in solo, duo and trio performances.  New music for April will include the debut live recording of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, the SF Jazz Collective performing the music of Michael Jackson, vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, the Steve Kuhn Trio, the East-West Trumpet Summit, newly discovered live piano duets between Tommy Flanagan and Hank Jones, Ernie Wilkins’ Almost big Band, the Marc

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The Sunday, April 17  Jazz Unlimited will be “Compositions of Duke Ellington.”   April marks the 117thth birthday of one of our greatest composers, Duke Ellington.  We will hear music that includes a 1932 medley in stereo, a suite for a film on the horse racing paintings of Degas, a vocal of one of his pieces from “Such Sweet Thunder,” a tribute to Shakespeare.  Other artists on the show include Al Cohn, Benny Carter, Horace Silver, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Johnny O’Neal, Ella Fitzgerald, Clarinet Summit, Buell Neidlinger, McCoy Tyner, the Vienna Art Orchestra, J

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for April will be “The Career of Geri Allen.” Geri Allen was born Pontiac, MI.  Her family moved to Detroit.  She is a graduate of Cass Technical High School, whose music program has produced so many jazz musicians.  She has an AB in jazz from Howard University and an MS in ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh.  In addition to her performing career, she is now an Associate Professor and jazz studies director at the University of  Pittsburgh.  We will be heard with her own trios and small groups and in addition with Wallace Roney, Charles Lloyd, Roy Brook

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, April 3, will be “The Career of Ron Carter.”  Ron Carter is the most recorded bassist in jazz.  In his 50-year career, he has played with just about everybody.  This show includes Carter’s playing with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall, Benny Carter, The Great Jazz Trio, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Eric Dolphy, T.S. Monk, The Kronos Quartet, Tadd Dameron, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Barron, Geri Allen, Gil Evans, Abby Lincoln, McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Shirley Horn, St. Louis' own Fred Tompkins and Freddie Hubbard. 

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for March 27 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The late pianist Paul Bley will be remembered during the Keys and Strings Hour.  New music will be featured in the second and third hours.  It will include trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, Charles Lloyd, the young pianist Joey Alexander, Hendrik Muerkins, drummer Sherry Miracle and Five Play, the Stryker/Slagle band, Snarky Puppy, the Phil Woods Quintet, Bill Frisell, the Kansas City Generations Sextet, the Russian bassist Ark Ovrutsky and Three Story Sandbox.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for March 20, 2016 is “The Music of Sonny Rollins.”  Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins is one of the greatest living improvisers in jazz.  Over his sixty plus year career, he has taken part in many recordings as both a leader and sideman.  He has also composed well-known jazz standards that remain challenging today.  We will him with his own groups, Bud Powell, Brown/Roach Inc. Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.  His compositions will be played by St. Louisan Grant Green with Sonny Clark, J.J.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for March 13, 2016 will be “Jazz Families-Blood Relatives-Part 5.”  This last program on the genetics of jazz will feature music by the Joe and Walter “Foots” Thomas, the New Orleans Humphrey, Joseph, Batiste, Barker, Barbarin, and Jordan families, George E. and Julia Lee, the Hall Brothers, Nicholas Payton and his father Walter, the Sims brothers, St. Louis’s Silverman brothers, the Freemans of Chicago, Oscar Pettiford and his brother Alonzo, Ingrid and Christine Jensen, and Alice Coltrane and her half brother, Ernie Farrow.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for February 6, 2016 is “The Compositions of Richard Rodgers.”  Richard Rodgers was a composer who wrote over 900 compositions.  Music from his Broadway shows is used in jazz.  His music will be performed on this show by Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Bill Watrous, Roy Hargrove, Donald Byrd, Pepper Adams, Billie Holiday, the Great Jazz Trio, Gerry Mulligan, Nat Adderley, Sonny Clark, Miles Davis, Roger Kellaway, Red Mitchell. Gene Harris, John McLaughlin, Cassandra Wilson and Oliver Nelson.  This show is part of St.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for February 28, 2016 will be the fourth of a five-part series on “Jazz Families: Blood Relatives.”  There are an amazing number of jazz musicians who have blood relatives (mothers, fathers, siblings) who are also jazz musicians.  The musicians heard on this show include St.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for February 21, 2016 will present the third part of a five-part series on “Jazz Families: Blood Relatives.”  There are an amazing number of jazz musicians who have blood relatives (mothers, fathers, siblings) who are also jazz musicians.  This show will have music from our own Singleton Palmer Dixie Six with Ben Thigpen, Ben’s son Ed Thigpen, our own Jeter-Pillars Orchestra, the Quintet of the Hot Club of France with the Reinhardt brothers, the Marsala brothers, the Montgomery brothers, Red and Whitey Mitchell, Bud and Richie Powell, Stu and Claude Williamson, Charl

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for February 14, 2016 is the second ina five-part series on “Jazz Families: Blood Relatives.”  There are an amazing number of jazz musicians who have blood relatives (mothers, fathers, siblings) who are also jazz musicians.  This show will have music from the St.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for February 7 will be the first of a five-part series on “Jazz Families: Blood Relatives.”  There are an amazing number of jazz musicians who have blood relatives (mothers, fathers, siblings) who are also jazz musicians.  This show will feature music by the Dodds brothers, the Buckner brothers, the DeParis brothers, the Goodman brothers, Albert Ammons and his son Gene, Cannonball and Nat Adderley and Nat’s son Nat Adderley, Jr., the Clayton family, the Candoli brothers, the Brecker brothers, the Cole brothers, the Barron brothers, the Bryant brothers, Kenny Drew and

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, January 31, 2015 will be “Jazz Giants Born in January and February.”  Jazz Giants are those musicians whose individuality makes them both instantly recognizable by their sound and revered for their inspiring playing. Among these giants are Henry "Red" Allen, Mildred Bailey, Frank Butler, Big Sid Catlett, Kenny Clarke, Curtis Counce, Tadd Dameron, Buddy DeFranco, Roy Eldridge, Jimmy Forrest, Stan Getz, Benny Golson, Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Bobby Hutcherson, Milt Jackson, J. J. Johnson, James P.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, January 24 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  Pianist Marian McPartland was a beloved figure in jazz because of her “Piano Jazz” radio program.  She will be featured on the “Keys and Strings Hour.”  In addition, new music for January will feature a six-CD set from pianist Joe Castro, and new CD’s from Harold Mabern, Marlene Ver Planck, Lew Tabackin, Joshua Redman with the Bad Plus, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Jimmy Cobb’s original Cobb’s Mob, The 14 Jazz Orchestra and a trio of Ralph Alessi, Kris Davis and St. Louis’s own Steve Davis.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for January 17 will be “The Career of John Hicks.”  Born in Atlanta, pianist John Hicks came to St. Louis at the age of 14.  Hicks went to high school with Lester Bowie and Oliver Lake.  He went to Lincoln University and the Berklee School of Music.  Hicks made his first recordings with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.  He soon became an in-demand pianist, playing with Betty Carter and David Murray in addition to leading his own groups.  This show will feature him with, in addition, Joe Lovano, Jay McShann, Booker Ervin, Nick Brignola, Ray Anderson, St.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited  for January 10, 2016 will be “The Career of Tony Williams.”  A child prodigy, drummer Tony Williams was born in Chicago in 1945 but was raised in Boston.  A student of Alan Dawson, Williams was playing professionally at age 13 with Sam Rivers and other advanced musicians.  At 17, he joined the Miles Davis Quintet and revolutionized the way rhythm sections have played since the mid-1960’s.  According to Drummer magazine, his playing suggested melody, counter-point, and harmony, which has been a revelation to most drummers since the 1960s.  He was one of the

Hits Of The 1960's

Jan 3, 2016
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for January 3, 2016 will be “Hits of the 1960’s.”  Since around 1955, jazz musicians rarely play the hit pop tunes of their time.  The reason is that many of these tunes do not have interesting melodies or chord progressions sufficiently challenging for these musicians to play them.  Some of them did and those will be the ones used by these musicians, some even into the 2000’s.  This music will be played by Duke Ellington, Grant Green, Debbie Lennon, Oscar Peterson & Milt Jackson, Fred Hersch, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Roberta Flack, Dexter Gordon, the World Saxophone Q

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited  for December 27, will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The “Keys and Strings Hour” will present pianists Teddy Wilson, Dave Brubeck, Roger Kellaway, John Hicks, Ray Bryant, Toshiko Akiyoshi and Hampton Hawes in solo, duo, trio and quartet formats.  New music for December will be Scott Hamilton with the Jeff Hamilton Trio, Junior Mance, the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, Carrie Wicks, A David Friesen & Glen Moore duet, vocalist Carrie Wicks, Amina Figarova, Chucho Valdes, Gary Bartz & the Heads of State, John Coltrane, Matthew Shipp, Orrin Evans a

Winter Holiday Music

Dec 19, 2015
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, December 20 will be “Winter Holiday Music.”  In this country, the month of December is host to four major celebratory traditions: Hanukkah (December 6-14), Winter Solstice (December 22), Christmas (December 25) and Kwanzaa (December 26-Jamuary 1).  We will play music not only of the season, but also suggestive of the season.  The artists heard on this show are Joe Henderson, Don Byron, Count Basie. The Sackville All-Stars, Dave Brubeck. Thomas Marriott, Keith Jarrett, Toshiko Akiyoshi.

Unknown / Courtesy of Richard Davis

Jazz Unlimited for December 13, 2015 will be “The Career of Richard Davis.”  Bassist Richard Davis was born in Chicago in 1930.  In high school, he studied with Captain Walter Dyett.  After college, he worked in dance bands and with Don Shirley.  He got to New York in 1954, playing with the Sauter-Finnegan Orchestra.  Davis accompanied Sarah Vaughan from 1957-1960.  During this time, he was building a studio career playing music of many genres.  His studio work included hit records by Laura Nyro (Smile) Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run) and Van Morrison (Astral Weeks

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for December 6, 2015 will be “The Compositions of Irving Berlin.”   Composer Irving Berlin was part of a group of Eastern European Jews whose families immigrated to the United States to escape persecution in the late 1800’s.  Even though there was a lot of prejudice against them, these immigrants invented the music publishing industry.  Quite a few of these immigrants were composers who wrote the Great American Songbook.  The compositions of Irving Berlin will be played on this show by the Ralph Sutton/Dick Hyman duo, a Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald vocal duet, Eddie Condon

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