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Dennis Owsley wins 2016 Jazz Hero Award

Jazz Unlimited host Dennis Owsley
St. Louis Public Radio file photo
Jazz Unlimited host Dennis Owsley

The Jazz Journalist’s Association has named Dennis Owsley the second Jazz Hero from the St. Louis region.  He’s recognized in part for his radio show, Jazz Unlimited, with St. Louis Public Radio.

“The way he puts it together in formats and themes, it can be really educational not only for hardcore jazz fans but people who are just coming into jazz,” said Terry Perkins, who oversees the JJA award in St. Louis.

Owsley will be presented with the award Saturday April 9 at Jazz at the Bistro.  He’s one of 26 heroes or “activists of positive influence on their musical communities” named throughout the United States.

Owsley has hosted St. Louis Public Radio’s Jazz Unlimited every Sunday night for more than 30 years. He’s written about Jazz for St. Louis Magazine and both published and exhibited photography documenting local Jazz musicians. Owsley’s book City of Gabriels – The Jazz History of St. Louis: 1895-1973 was published in 2006.

Owsley is noted for his wide range of interests in various types of jazz. His shows have focused on the intersection of new music and jazz, jazz family dynasties, individual musicians, jazz and money, and anniversaries of great albums.

Perkins believes Owsley has the unique ability to bridge various interests among jazz fans and casual listeners.

“Jazz is high echelon musical skill but that shouldn’t preclude that it can be really good, intriguing, wonderful, exciting music and I think Dennis does a good job really opening it up for people,” he said.

Jazz U students will gather to play at Jazz at the Bistro as part of the ceremony on April 9.