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The Music Of Mary Lou Williams

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, May 15, 2016 will be “The Music of Mary Lou Williams.”  Piano prodigy Mary Lou Williams taught herself piano at the age of six and was playing professionally by age seven.  Discovered in Kansas City in 1929, she wrote hundreds of compositions and arrangements for many bands as well as playing powerful jazz piano.  In the early 1950’s, she became a devout Catholic and wrote three masses (two unrecorded).  Her “Mass for Peace,” also known as “Mary Lou’s Mass,” was commissioned by the Pontifical Commission on Peace and Justice in March of 1969.  We will hear some of her compositions and arrangements played by her and by the Andy Kirk Clouds of Joy, Boots and His Buddies, the Mary Lou Williams Girl Stars, Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Nat “King” Cole, the Dutch Jazz Orchestra, Jimmy Witherspoon, the Mary Lou Williams Collective, Duke Ellington, Anita O’Day, Virginia Mayhew, Dave Douglas, Ingrid Jensen and Carline Ray.

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 23, 2016.

This is a video of "Ain't Misbehavin'" with Benny Goodman (cl). Mary Lou Williams (p). Cal Collins (g). Connie Kay (d). Major Holley (b) in 1978.  Be sure to check out Major Holley's solo, where he hums in the same range as what the bass is playing.

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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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