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The Career Of Pee Wee Russell

Jazz Unlimited for May 3 is “The Career of Pee Wee Russell.”  Clarinetist Pee Wee Russell was born in Maplewood Missouri in 1906.  All of his life, he was a contrarian who went his own way.  Even though he was a very original voice, Pee Wee was very shy and people laughed at him because he looked like a clown.  Whitney Balliet remarked that, “even his feet look sad.”  During his career, Balliet noted that he worked with the wrong musicians most of his life and during the last seven or eight years worked with musicians he should have been working with his entire life.  He also became a very good abstract painter in the 1960’s.  In this show, we will hear him with Bix Beiderbecke, Coleman Hawkins, a bunch of Eddie Condon groups, Hot Lips Page, Chu Berry, Earl Hines and modernists Bob Brookmeyer, Jimmy Giuffre, Oliver Nelson, Elvin Jones  and Thelonious Monk.

The Slide Show contains photos of Pee Wee Russell and Oliver Nelson, also heard on this show.

The Archive for this show will be available until the morning of May 14, 2015.

Here is a 1961 video from the SWF-TV-studio, Baden-Baden, Germany with the Newport Festival All Stars: Ruby Braff (c) Vic Dickenson (tb) Pee Wee Russell (cl) George Wein (p) Jimmy Woode (b) Buzzy Drootin (d) Joachim E. Berendt (narr,prod) playing "Jazz Train Blues" and "When Your Lover Has Gone."

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.

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