Jazz Unlimited | St. Louis Public Radio

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 2018 marks his 35th 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 owsleydc@umsl.edu 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 September 10, 2017 will be “The Music of Oscar Peterson.”  Pianist Oscar Peterson is reputed to be the most recorded pianist in jazz.  We will hear him with Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Ed Thigpen, Ben Webster, Flip Phillips, Lester Young, Stan Getz & Lester Young, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Jazz At the Philharmonic, Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Sonny Stitt and Stuff Smith.  This show is part of the St.

The Sleep Cycle

Aug 31, 2017

All of us spend a significant portion of our lives sleeping.  When we are asleep, we dream, we have rapid eye movements, some of us talk, some of us walk and at one time or other we all have nightmares.  There are a surprising number of tunes having to do with what goes on when we sleep.   We feature music by Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Ben Webster, Irene Reid, Johnny Hodges, Bertha Hope, Roger Kellaway, Count Basie, Ornette Coleman, Kurt Elling, Gary Burton, Horace Silver, Irene Reid, Meredith D'Ambrosio, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Charles Mingus, Gerald Clayton, Marilyn Crispell, Toshiko

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for August 27, 2017 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  Piano duets will be featured on the August “Keys and Strings Hour.”  The duets will be between Albert Ammons & Meade “Lux” Lewis, Ralph Sutton & Jay McShann, Oscar Peterson & Benny Green, Count Basie & Oscar Peterson, Harold Danko & Kirk Lightsey, Tommy Flanagan & Hank Jones, Chick Corea & Hiromi and Dick Hyman and Roger Kellaway.  In addition, new music will be heard from a CD entitled “The Passion of Charlie Parker,” the group Steps Ahead, Slideride (a kind of “World T

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, August 20, 2017 will be “Broadway 1950 and Beyond-Part 2.”  Before the original cast record albums, most of the music from Broadway musicals came into jazz via films based on those shows.  Since then, music directly from Broadway shows has crept into jazz.  We will hear music from “The King and I,” “The Music Man,”  “Guys and Dolls,” “42nd Street,” “Funny Girl,” “Company,” “A Chorus Line,” “The Wiz,” “The Girls of Summer,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “The Sound of Music,” “Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for August 13, 2017 will be “Broadway: 1950 and Beyond-Part 1.”  Before the original cast record albums, most of the music from Broadway musicals came into jazz via films based on those shows.  Since then, music directly from Broadway shows has crept into jazz.  We will hear music from “West Side Story,” “My Fair Lady,” “Evita,” “Hello Dolly,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “A Little Night Music,” Camelot,” “Mary Poppins,” “Bells Are Ringing” and “The King and I.”  Singleton Palmer, Buddy Rich, Sarah Vaughan, Keith Jarrett, David Liebman, Oscar Peterson, Shelly Manne, Tamir

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for August 6, 2017 will be “Dexter Gordon in His Own Words.”  The great tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon was noted not only for his melodic solos that were compositions in their own right but also for inserting humorous quotes into his solos.  He had a great speaking voice and late in his career was nominated for an Oscar for his work in the film “‘Round Midnight.”  We will hear him in four monologues on various topics and with Dizzy Gillespie, the Billy Eckstine Orchestra, Wardell Gray, Herbie Hancock, Woody Shaw and with his own groups.  His compositions will be pla

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, July 30 2017 will be “Remembering Geri Allen.”  Geri Allen was a pianist, composer, arranger, bandleader and visionary jazz educator who died last June.  Jazz Unlimited will pay tribute to her by playing music from her own Mary Lou Williams Collective and Timeline groups as well as with such musicians as Bobby Hutcherson, Andy Bey, Charlie Haden, Charles Lloyd, Roy Brooks, Betty Carter, T.S.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for July 23, 2017 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour Featuring Gary Peacock + New Music.”  The Keys and Strings Hour will present bassist Gary Peacock with the Keith Jarrett Standards Trio, Mark Copland, Barney Kessel, Claire Fischer, Don Pullen and Marilyn Crispell with Annette Peacock.  New music to be presented will include a trio of Jack Dejohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison, a duo of Dominique Eade and Ran Blake, the Tom Kohl Trio, the Mats Holmquist and Hyeson Hong Big Bands, Wadada Leo Smith saluting our National Parks, a trio of Carla Bley, Steve Swallo

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for July 16, 2017 will be “The Music of Johnny Hodges Away from Duke Ellington.”  Johnny Hodges was a major star in the Duke Ellington firmament as the alto saxophonist who played the lyrical compositions of his bandleader.  Ellington said his tone was so beautiful it brought tears to his eyes.  We will spotlight his music away from the Ellington orbit.  We will hear Hodges with his own groups and as a sideman with Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Joe Thomas, Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday, Billy Strayhorn, Jazz At the Philharmonic, Billy Taylor, Sr.

Freedom

Jul 2, 2017
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for July 9, 2017 will be “Freedom.”  July Fourth brings to my mind Billy Strayhorn’s Four Freedoms that I try to live by: freedom from hate, freedom from self pity, freedom from fear of doing something that would benefit someone else more than it would me and freedom from the pride that could make me feel that I was better than others.  All of the selections on this show will have the word “Freedom” in the title.  We will play music from Duke Ellington, the Jazz Crusaders, Grant Green, Max Roach, Eddie Harris, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Lennie Tristano, Lion

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sundan, June 18, 2017 will be  “The Career of Wynton Kelly.”  Pianist Wynton Kelly graced many live and studio sessions with his clean, lively lines.  He was best known as an accompanist, pushing the music of Art Pepper, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Joe Henderson, Art Blakey, Milt Jackson, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington and Abbey Lincoln to new heights.  In addition, we will hear one of his compositions played by a group with seven tubas and a rhythm section.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited  for June 11, 2117 will be “The Career of  Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen.”   Also known as “the great Dane with the never ending name,” Ørsted Pedersen was born in 1946.  His father was a church organist.  He took piano lessons as a child, switched to bass at age 13 and made his first recordings at 14.  By 15 he was working regularly at Copenhagen’s famed Montmartre Jazzhus and by 16, toured Scandinavia with Bud Powell.  He recorded with Albert Ayler at age 17 and had a career accompanying Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, Dexter Gordon, Joe Pass, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillesp

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for June 4, 2017 will be “The Career of Lionel Hampton.”  Vibraphonist, drummer and vocalist Lionel Hampton was one of the first to bring the vibraphone into jazz as a solo instrument.  His out-sized personality kept his career going long after the swing era had faded.  We will hear him with artists as diverse as Paul Howard’s Quality Serenaders, Louis Armstrong, Nat “King” Cole, the Jim Cullum River Walk Jazz Band, Benny Goodman, Art Tatum, Buddy Rich, Dinah Washington, Oscar Peterson, Stan Getz, Charlie Christian, Chu Berry, Oscar Peterson, Johnny Hodges and Dizzy

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited tonight for May 28, 2017 will be “Six Decades of Keys and Strings at the Vanguard + New Music.”  The venerable Village Vanguard has been the site of many outstanding recordings.  The May Keys and Strings Hour will present music recorded in every decade from the 1960’s to the 2010’s in that venue, including music by the Bobby Hutcherson Quartet, a Jim Hall Quartet and the trios of Junior Mance, Christian McBride, Bill Charlap and Fred Hersch, along with the Great Jazz Trio.  New music for May will feature George Coleman, a duo between Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith,

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for May 21, 2017 will be  “The Music if Bill Evans.”  Pianist Bill Evans is arguably the most influential pianist in jazz since the early 1960’s.  His elegant, impressionistic pianism and compositions will be celebrated by hearing recordings of him with his own groups, with others and by other instrumentalists and vocalists playing and singing his music.  The featured musicians, in addition to Evans, will include vocalists Johnny Hartman, Tony Bennett, Janice Borla, Karrin Allyson and Judy Niemack along with instrumentalists Tadd Dameron, Joe Pass, the Miles Davis se

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for May 14 will be “The Compositions of Carla Bley.” Composer, arranger and bandleader Carla Bley continues to work at age 81.  Her first compositions were recorded by the George Russell sextet.  These elegiac, sometimes sardonic and witty compositions will be played by George Russell, her own groups and big bands, Gary Burton, Jimmy Giuffre, the Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra, John McLaughlin, Art Farmer & Jim Hall, Paul Bley, Orrin Evans and Tony Williams’ Lifetime.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for May 7, 2017 will be “The Steeplechase, Storyville and Challenge Record Labels-Part 2.” Theses Danish labels provided a haven for American jazz musicians who were not involved in jazz-rock, avant-garde or the neo-classicism of the 1970’s through the early 1990’s.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for April 30, 2017 will be  “Jazz Giants for March and April.”  The March and April Jazz Giants show features musicians who have changed the way we listen to jazz.  The musicians heard on the show will be Bix Beiderbecke, Billie Holiday Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton, Ben Webster, Thad Jones, Gerry Mulligan, Carmen McRae, Gary Burton, Nat “King Cole, Pee Wee Russell, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Johnny Griffin, Red Norvo, Randy Weston, Jim Hall, Paul Chambers, Charles Tolliver, Sarah Vaughan, Lennie Tristano, George Adams, Joe Henderson, Miles Davis, Michael Brecker, Char

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for April 23, 2017 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour (Hoagy Carmichael Tunes) and New Music.  The music will be played by: Marian McPartland, Ray Brown, Ray Bryant, Jim Hall & Charlie Haden, Dave Brubeck, Red Garland, Gene Harris, the SFJazz Collective, Benny Green, Kelvyn Bell, Judy Niemack, Charlie Watts & the Danish Radio Big Band, Mike McGinnis, Adam Schneidt and Antonio Adolpho.

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

The Archive of this show will be available until the morning of may 1, 2017.

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