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.

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

Jazz Unlimited for 11/29/15 is "The Career of Joe Pass."  The New Yorker magazine said, “Joe Pass looks like somebody's uncle and plays guitar like nobody's business. He's called ‘the world's greatest’ and often compared to Paganini for his virtuosity.  Despite starting his solo career 13 years late due to unfortunate circumstances, Pass worked constantly from 1961 to 1994.

There are no photographs for this show.

This Archive of the show will be available until the morning of December 7, 2015.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for November 22 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The Keys and Strings hour will present piano trios and solos with Jessica Williams, Joanne Brackeen, Hiromi, Dawn Clement, Irene Schweizer, Marilyn Crispell, Kris Davis and the Mary Lou Williams Collective.  New music for November will be from St. Louisans Peter Martin and Dom Thomas, along with Cassandra Wilson, Erroll Garner, Kenny Wheeler, Christian Scott, Charles Mingus, Joel Harrison and Spirit House, Jeff Jenkins, Adam Niewood and Kamasi Washington.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, November 15 will be “The Career of Christian McBride.”  Born in Philadelphia in 1972, bassist Christian McBride joined Bobby Watson’s Horizon at the age of 17.  A virtuoso, he has played with nearly every important name in jazz since then.  His career has involved funk, pop and fusion in addition to mainstream jazz, earning four Grammies.  He will be heard with his mentor, Ray Brown, Jay McShann, Cyrus Chestnut, the Contemporary Piano Ensemble, Roy Hargrove, Joe Henderson, Ann Hampton Callaway, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Kurt Elling, Donald Harrison, T.S.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for November 8, 2015 is “The Career of Sir Roland Hanna.”  Born in Detroit in 1932, Sir Roland Hanna studied at the Eastman School of Music and graduated from Julliard in 1960.  He was one of the most flexible of all the modern jazz pianists in that he was equally at home in big bands and small groups.  Hanna spent much of his career anchoring the Benny Goodman and Thad Jones/Mel Lewis big bands.  In 1970, he was named an honorary knight of Liberia.  We will hear him with Kenny Burrell, Richard Davis, Charles Mingus, Richard Davis, James Newton, Clark Terry, George Mraz, Jimm

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, November 1, 2015 will be “The Music of Pat Metheny.”   Since the late 1970’s, guitarist Pat Metheny has been a very popular figure in jazz, but he is much more than that.  He is always experimenting with different guitars and ways of playing his instrument.  Over his career, Metheny has played with the most advanced mainstream musicians of his day.  In addition, we will play seven of his compositions by other musicians.  Musicians and groups featured on this show include the Pat Metheny Group, Kurt Elling, Matt Wilson’s Arts and Crafts, the Pat Metheny-Brad Mehlda

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for October 25, 2015 will be “A Tribute to Willie Akins and New Music.”   St. Louis saxophonist Willie Akins died September 23, 2015 from congestive heart failure.  Akins worked in New York during the 1960, but returned to St.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for October 18, 2015 will be “The compositions of Wayne Shorter.”  During his long career, saxophonist Wayne Shorter wrote quite a few fascinating compositions that are played today by many other musicians.  Shorter’s saxophone will not be heard on this show, but we will hear his compositions played by St.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, Oct. 11, is “The Music of Kenny Dorham.”  During his active playing career, flashier contemporaries, such as Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan sadly eclipsed trumpeter Kenny Dorham in the public eye.  This was because of his softer sound, narrower range and a more melodic playing style. 

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for October 4 is  “The Career of Jeff Hamilton.”  Born in Richmond, Indiana, drummer Jeff Hamilton is comfortable playing in all styles of music, equally at home in trio, combo or big band settings.  He went to Indiana University and started his career with Lionel Hampton in 1974.  Jeff first came to prominence with Monty Alexander trio in 1976.  Since then, he has played with a wide variety of artists, including Woody Herman, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and the LA Four.  His drumming is very melodic and is characterized by the use of an older style Chinese cymbal.  He teaches,

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, September 27 will be “Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  In the “Keys and Strings Hour,” we will hear the compositions of Bud Powell, who, in his heyday, was considered the technical equal to Art Tatum.  Powell was the progenitor of the more open bebop style of piano playing with “shells” of the chords in his left hand.  Jacky Terrasson, Medeski, Martin & Wood, George Shearing, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chick Corea, Danilo Pérez, Geri Allen, Keith Jarrett and Bud Powell himself will interpret his works.  In the new music segment of the show, we will hear a Mozart P

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, September 20 will be “Compositions of Monk and Coltrane.”  This show focuses on the compositions of Monk and Coltrane interpreted by others.  We will feature the music of three classic albums: Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Music (1957),” 5 by Monk by 5 (1959) and John Coltrane’s “Crescent (1964).”  In addition, five other Coltrane compositions written from 1958-60 will be explored.  These musicians will include Dan Rubright, Steve Schenkel, the Monk’s Music Trio, the Bill Holman Big Band, Steve Lacy, Joe Lovano, James Carter, Karrin Allyson, Marty Ehrlich, Frank Morga

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, September 13 will be “The Music of Wayne Shorter.”  Over his 56-year career, saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter has won ten Grammies and numerous other awards.  He is best known for his long tenures with Art Blakey, Miles Davis and Weather Report and has led many ensembles, most notably his “without a net” quartet with Danilo Perez.  In addition, we will hear him with Lee Morgan, Herbie Hancock and J.J.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, September 6 will be “The Career of Jack DeJohnette.”  Drummer Jack DeJohnette has been one of the major drummers in jazz since 1965.  Born in Chicago, he was an early member of the AACM and played with Charles Lloyd, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and Keith Jarrett as well as leading his own groups.  He was one of the first drummers to use rock rhythms in a jazz context.  DeJohnette will be heard tonight with his own groups, Keith Jarrett, Betty Carter, Jackie McLean, Chick Corea, Jerry Hahn, Don Byron, Charles Lloyd, D.D.

New Music

Aug 26, 2015
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for August 30 will be “New Music.”  New music will be heard on Jazz Unlimited to close the month of August.  This show will include the “Keys and Strings Hour.”  Some of the artists on this show will be our own Gateway City Big Band and Bosman Twins as well as Arturo O’Farril, Fred Hersch, Barry Harris, Kenny Werner, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Ramsey Lewis, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Charlie Haden, Kurt Elling, Sam Rivers, the Clusone 3 and Jacob Garchik with his album “The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album.”

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright William Gottleib

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, August 23 will be “The Norman Granz Labels-Part 3.”  Entrepreneur-Promoter Norman Granz founded the Clef, Norgran, Down Home, Verve and Pablo record labels.  Part 3 of this series presents recordings by Joe Pass, Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Bryant, Lee Konitz, Betty Carter, Bud Powell, John Coltrane, Michael Brecker, Kenny Burrell, Benny Carter, Roy Eldridge and Billie Holiday, among others.

The Slide Show has my photographs of three of the artists heard on this show.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, August 16 will be “The Career of Ray Brown.”  Oscar Peterson introduced him as “The Relentless Ray Brown.”  He was born in Pittsburgh in 1926 and began piano lessons at age eight.  When he got to high school, he began playing bass with Jimmy Blanton as his major influence.  He went to New York in at the age of 20.  He was soon invited to a rehearsal and the musicians there included Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Al Haig and Max Roach.  Dizzy hired him on the spot and Ray never looked back.  He participated in 900 recording sessions, 75 as a leader.  In his 57-ye

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, August 9 will be “The Career of Dave Holland.”  Bassist Dave Holland was born in England in 1946.  He is self-taught, one of the few modern jazz musicians without conservatory training.  Holland has been a professional musician since 1964.  Miles Davis and Philly Joe Jones discovered him in Ronnie Scott’s club in London in 1968.  Since that time, he has played with many of the greatest musicians in jazz and taking part in 319 recordings, 24 as a leader.  This show will highlight his work with his own groups and big band, Miles Davis, Charles Lloyd, Claudia Acuňa,

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The Jazz Unlimited show for August 2 is “The Fifty Year Career of Kenny Barron.”  Born in Philadelphia in 1943, pianist Kenny Barron began his career in 1960 and was best known early in his career for his work with Dizzy Gillespie.  Since that time he is now considered to be one of the most important and influential mainstream jazz pianists since the bebop era.  We will hear him with his own groups, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Kevin Mahogany, Dave Holland, Benny Carter, Stan Getz, Regina Carter, Sphere, Judy Niemack, a six French horn ensemble, Joshua Breakstone, Ron Carter’s Piccolo Bass

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, July 26 will be “The Norman Granz Labels-Part 2.”  Entrepreneur-Promoter Norman Granz founded the Clef, Norgran,Verve and Pablo record labels.  After Granz sold Verve, the label has become a powerhouse, recording many styles of jazz with such artists as Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Ventura, Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, Zoot Sims, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Johnny Hodges, Charlie Haden, Gil Evans, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and others.

The Slide Show contains my photographs of some of the artists heard on this show.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, July 19 will be “The Norman Granz Labels-Part 1.”  During his career, Norman Granz founded the Clef, Norgran, Down Home, Verve and Pablo record labels.  These labels recorded mainstream and traditional jazz artists including Oscar Peterson, Ben Webster, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Jazz at the Philharmonic, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Kenny Barron, Charlie Parker, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Clark Terry and others from 1944 until today.

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

Alternate Takes

Jul 8, 2015
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, July 12 from 9:00 p.m.

Jazz Unlimited for July 5 will be “The Music of Red Garland.”  Pianist William “Red” Garland was born in Dallas, Texas and was an integral part of Miles Davis’s 1950’s groups and recorded prolifically for Prestige.  He developed a never repeated block chord technique that gave a shimmering sound to his playing.  Early in his life, Red was a middleweight boxer, fighting a young Ray Robinson.  He gave up boxing to save his hands, but his left-hand rhythms bounced with the rhythm of a boxer.  Red Garland was active from the early 1950’s until 1962, when he returned to Dallas to care for his ai

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for June 28, 2016 will present “Remembering Ray Kennedy and Ornette Coleman + New Music.”  St.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, June 21 will be “The Music of Charles Mingus.”  Bassist, composer and bandleader Charles Mingus was born in Nogales, Arizona, raised in Los Angeles and was part of an experimental music scene in the late 1940’s that developed around Lloyd Reese.  At the time, he had no peers who had his technique.  We will hear some of his early music, some of his compositions and some of his compositions played by others.  In addition, we will debut two of his recently discovered compositions.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The Jazz Unlimited show for June 14, 2105 is “West Coast Jazz-Part 2.”  The jazz of the Left Coast in the 1950’s followed the Eastern trends in it’s own way and was widely condemned by the Right Coast jazz critics.  It was popular because it was heard in films and TV shows of the time and also because of good distribution by West Coast record labels.  We will hear music presented chronologically from 1956-1960 by the Bill Perkins Octet, the Vince Guaraldi Trio, he Jimmy Giuffre Three, the Curtis Counce Quintet, The Hampton Hawes Quartet with Jim Hall.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for June 7, 2015 is  “West Coast Jazz-Part 1.”  Known as “West Coast Jazz,” the very popular music of Los Angeles and San Francisco in the 1950’s was widely condemned by the eastern jazz critics mainly because it was not based in New York.  The music followed the east coast trends but sounded lighter and was more experimental.  This week’s show will cover the years 1950-1956 chronologically and will have 38 performances of the music which feature Dave Brubeck, Wardell Gray, Hampton Hawes, the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Shelly Manne, Shorty Rogers, Bud

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for May 31, 2015 will be “Jazz Giants for May and June.”  Throughout its history, certain key players have heavily influenced the course of jazz.  These Jazz Giants are the ones that lesser players imitate and copy.  Jazz Unlimited always plays the Jazz Giants instead of the imitators.  Sunday night’s music will feature Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Trumbauer, Joe “King” Oliver, Fats Waller, Benny Goodman, Miles Davis, Shelly Manne, Freddie Redd, Betty Carter, Woody Herman, Eric Dolphy, Chick Corea, Bud Shank, Bill Holman, Betty Carter and Sun Ra.

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