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The Music of J.J. Johnson

Jazz Unlimited for December 4, 2016 is “The Music of J.J. Johnson.”  Trombonist J.J. Johnson was born in Indianapolis in 1922.  He began piano lessons at the age of nine and started on trombone at 14.  Initially, he played in big bands, making his recording debut with Benny Carter.  Johnson was one of the first trombonists to master the intricate and highly technical bebop musical language.  He played on the first Jazz At the Philharmonic Concert.  In the 1950’s, he and fellow trombonist Kai Winding had a very popular quintet.  He led many small groups in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  He then turned to composing and orchestration, first for big bands and other orchestras on commission and then in the 1970’s for films and television.  He went back o the road in 1983 and moved back to Indianapolis in the late 1980’s.  He retired in 1996 and died in 2001.  This show finds J.J. Johnson with the Dizzy Gillespie big band and small groups, his own big band and brass orchestra, Bud Powell, Count Basie, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Kai Winding, the Brass Ensemble of the Jazz-Classical Music Society, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Horace Silver, his trombone octet and two Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts.

The Slide Show has my photographs of some of the artists heard on the show.

The Archive of this show will be available until the morning of December 12, 2016.

This is a rare video of Howard McGhee (tp) J.J. Johnson (tb) Sonny Stitt (as) Walter Bishop, Jr. (p) Tommy Potter (b) and Kenny Clarke (d) playing Charlie Parker's "Buzzy" on the 1964 BBC TV show "Jazz 625."

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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