© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

The Billie Holiday Centenary And New Music

Jazz Unlimited for April 26 will be “The Billie Centenary and New Music.”  Vocalist Billie Holiday set the standards for jazz vocals from the 1930’s up until today.  They are emotional honesty, good time and swing.  Very few have even attempted (unsuccessfully) to imitate her.  She will be heard singing both live and in studio singing from 1935 to 1957.  Her accompanists include Roy Eldridge, Lester Young, Benny Goodman, Ben Webster, Teddy Wilson, the Esquire All-Stars, the Jazz at the Philharmonic All-Stars, the Count Basie Band, the Artie Shaw band, the Eddie Heywood Orchestra, Carl Drinkard, Buck Clayton and Hot Lips Page.  The new music for April includes vocalist Judi Silvano, pianist Justin Kauflin, pianist-Vocalist Dawn Clement, St. Louisan Marty Ehrlich and the Joe Lovano/Dave Douglas group Sound Prints.

The Slide Show contains my photographs of some of the artists heard in the new music segment of this show.

This Archive of the show will be available until the morning of May 3, 2016.

Here is the famous version of "Fine and Mellow" by Billie Holiday in December, 1957 on the CBS TV show "The Sound of Jazz.".  She is accompanied by Ben Webster, Lester Young (ts) Vic Dickenson (tb) Gerry Mulligan (bar) Coleman Hawkins (ts) Roy Eldridge (tp) Doc Cheatham (tp) Mal Waldron (p) Danny Barker (g) Milt Hinton (b) Osie Johnson (d).  Note the interaction between her and Lester Young, who was quite ill and died 15 months later (March 15, 1959).  Billie Holiday died 19 months later (July 17, 1959)

Dennis Owsley has broadcast a weekly jazz show for St. Louis Public Radio since April 1983. He holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and is a retired Monsanto Senior Science Fellow and college teacher. His show, Jazz Unlimited, airs every Sunday from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. The show has the largest jazz audience in St. Louis and was named Best Jazz Radio Show in St. Louis for the years 2005-2007 and 2009 by the Riverfront Times. In celebration of his 25 years on the air, January 24, 2008 was proclaimed Dennis Owsley Day" in the City of St. Louis. He is the 2010 winner of the St. Louis Public Radio Millard S. Cohen Lifetime Achievement Award. Dennis is also a noted photographer, and his exhibit, In the Moment: Photographs of Jazz Musicians, ran from September 23, 2005 to January 21, 2006 at the Sheldon Art Gallery. He is a lifetime student of jazz history and teaches short courses on the subject. Dennis is the author of the award-winning book City of Gabriels: The History of Jazz in St. Louis 1985-1973, published in 2006.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.