© 2021 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Kansas City

Jazz Unlimited for August 4, 2019 will present “Kansas City.”  The music of Kansas City was side open and inventive in the late 1920’s, the 1930’s and early 1940’s.  The arrival of the Count  Basie Orchestra in New York in 1936 revived an increasingly moribund swing era.  The show will present the George E. Lee Orchestra, Jesse Stone’s Blue Serenaders, the feared Walter Page's Blue Devils, the Bennie Moten Kansas City Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, Harlan Leonard’s Kansas City Rockets and the Jay McShann band.  Important soloists came through these bands, including vocalist Julia Lee, saxophonists Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, trumpeters “Hot Lips” Page, Buck Clayton and Harry “Sweets” Edison and trombonist Fred Beckett.

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

Here is a video of vocalist Big Joe Turner and Jay McShann on piano singing "Piney Brown Blues" excerpted from the film Last of the Blue Devils (1979).  Jesse Price also joins in later.

Stay Connected
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.