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.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for October 19 will be  “Lennie Tristano and His Students.”  Lennie Tristano was one of the first teachers of methods of jazz improvisation.  His piano playing was characterized by dense, emotionally packed and sometimes dissonant sounds.  Tristano's teaching methods recruited students like saxophonists Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, guitarist Billy Bauer, and pianist Sal Mosca, all of whom will be heard on this show.  Konitz and Marsh are two of the most cliche-free improvisers in jazz.

The Slide Show contains images of three of the musicians heard on this show.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The September 12 Jazz Unlimited show will present “The Music of Thelonious Monk.”  By his early teens, Thelonious Monk was a promising classical pianist.  However, he left this music for jazz because of the freedom of expression it brought him.  This show will present his idiosyncratic piano playing along with 22 of his compositions, all of which are played today by many musicians.  He will be heard with big bands, piano trios and his own quartet.  His music will also be played and sung by others such as the Monk’s Music Trio, The Pocket Brass Band, Danilo Perez, Carmen McRae, Abbey Lincoln

Ray Brown played and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie from 1945 to 1980.
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, October 5 will be  “The Music of Dizzy Gillespie.”  Trumpeter, raconteur, composer and sometime vocalist John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was one of the founding fathers of the jazz style known as bebop, a style whose variants remain the main jazz style today.  Bebop influenced many other music genres, including film scoring and bluegrass.  Dizzy also was instrumental in bringing Latin rhythms into jazz.  We will play music recorded between the years 1939 and 1987, along with some of his compositions played by others.  In addition to Gillespie, Woody Herman, Gonzalo R

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for September 28 will be “Keys and Strings Hour/New Music.”  Piano fireworks and great beauty abound when we present new music from four of the greatest pianists in current jazz.  Chick Corea, Hiromi, Lynne Arriale and Keith Jarrett will be presented in solo, piano duet, piano bass duo and piano trio configurations on the “Keys and Strings Hour.”  The new music segment will feature trumpeter Sean Jones, vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, saxophonist Azar Lawrence, the Dave Liebman Big Band, pianist Kenny Werner, Arturo O’Farril and his orchestra, th

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

photographer unknown / Courtesy of the Randle Family

The July 13 Jazz Unlimited show is the second part of the Jazz History of St. Louis Radio Documentary.  The story of the jazz musicians of St. Louis and their relation to St. Louis history will be told in words and music by the people who were a part of that story.  The musicians and groups featured in Part Two are Red McKenzie and the Mound City Blue Blowers, Pee Wee Russell, Eddie Johnson and the St. Louis Crackerjacks, Hayes Pillars and the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra, George Hudson, Eddie Randle and the St.

Unknown / Scott Joplin House

Jazz Unlimited on Sunday, July 6 will be the first installment of the ten-week radio documentary on the jazz history of St. Louis.  Not only do we have the music, but also we have interviews with the people who made that history.  The interviewees for the first installment include St. Louis historian Judge Nathan Young, internationally known ragtime expert Trebor Jay Tichenor, tuba player Singleton Palmer, bandleader Eddie Johnson, trumpeters Clark Terry and David Hines and the great-grandson of the man who started the St.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Please join me Sunday night, June 29 on Jazz Unlimited from nine to midnight for “Remembering Horace Silver.”  Pianist, composer, bandleader and jazz giant Horace Silver died at the age of 85 on June 28.  He was born in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1928,  Horace’s father was from the Cape Verdean islands and he had an affinity for those rhythms and Latin rhythms all his life.  He was one of the architects of the style known as hard bop and his major pianistic influence was Bud Powell.  Silver’s first major job was with Stan Getz in 1950.  He signed with Blue Note Records in 1952 and remained wit

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, June 22 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour and New Music.”   The Keys and Strings Hour presents the quieter side of jazz, without horns.  Fireworks will not be lacking, however, as we present the music of two virtuoso pianists: Art Tatum and Hiromi.  The New Music segment for June will feature a rare 1959 album by Andrew Hill, Sonny Rollins’ “Roadshows, Vol.

Jam Sessions

Jun 14, 2014
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The June 15 Jazz Unlimited show will be “Jam Sessions.”  Jam sessions have been going on since the music started.  They can be contests where individual players test themselves against other players.  They can be situations in which an instrumentalist can try out new ideas and techniques.  They can be auditions for jobs with a certain bandleader and they can be situations where the musicians are having fun and experiencing higher-level communication than just talking.  Jam session records belong to a subset of jazz recordings.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for June 8 will feature “The Music of Shorty Rogers.”   Trumpeter, composer arranger Shorty Rogers was born Milton Rajonsky in 1924 I Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  He was involved in drum and bugle corps at an early age.  Following graduation from high school, he became a professional musician, working with Will Bradley, Red Norvo and Woody Herman.  Moving to Los Angeles, he worked with Stan Kenton and joined the Lighthouse All-Stars.  Rogers was one of the architects of the “West Coast Jazz” style and for the 1950’s was known as an avant-gardist.  He also had a studio ca

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