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Illinois Jacquet

Illinois Jacquet is considered to be one of the most influential tenor saxophonists in the history of jazz music. Born on October 31, 1922, in Broussard, Louisiana, Jean Baptiste Illinois Jacquet, at the age of 19 on the very first recording of his career, spawned an entirely new style and sound for the tenor saxophone. His classic solo on “Flying Home” recorded with the Lionel Hampton Band at Decca Records in New York City, on May 26, 1942, catapulted Jacquet to international fame and the solo became more famous than the song itself. All saxophonists learned to play Jacquet’s solo, every band recorded it, and people all over the world were humming this most famous solo in jazz history.

Two years later, on July 2, 1944, while improvising with Nat King Cole on piano and Les Paul on guitar for a benefit concert at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, Jacquet began to play a range of notes he had never played before. With an innovational use of harmonics in a creative impulse Jacquet discovered what would become a permanent expansion of the upper register on the tenor saxophone by two and one-half octaves. He then contrasted these stratospheric notes with sudden punctuations of sound from the lowest notes on the horn, and Jacquet thus gave birth to what was called the honking tenor that became the hallmark of rock and roll and greatly influenced rhythm and blues. In this less than three minute solo, later to be entitled “Philharmonic Blues, Part II”, Jacquet anticipated far into the future and encompassed the blue- print for several generations of saxophonists. This sensational explosive solo created the spark that helped to launch Jazz at the Philharmonic, the entity that took jazz out of night clubs and into concert halls around the world. In addition to knowing how to please the crowd with fiery excitement, Jacquet’s broad spectrum of musicianship allowed him also to carry his listeners into the depths of their being with his soulfully sensitive mastery of the ballad. He continued to be a star attraction with JATP until the final concert in 1957.

Illinois Jacquet grew up on stage, singing and dancing as a small child in front of his father’s territory band in Houston, Texas, the family having moved there from Louisiana before Jacquet was a year old. Formal musical training began in high school on drums and alto saxophone which he played with Milt Larkin’s legendary territory band. Graduation took him to the universities of the Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway and Count Basie bands. After “Flying Home” with Hampton. he appeared in the film “Stormy Weather” with Calloway. For Basie, he recorded the hits “The King” and “Mutton Leg”; and with his own record-breaking small band he had hits on every major label. For both Aladdin and Apollo, who started in the recording business with Jacquet, he produced a string of hits that quickly elevated them to major record label status.

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Book Review

Soul Jazz: Jazz In The Black Community, 1945-1975

Read "Soul Jazz: Jazz In The Black Community, 1945-1975" reviewed by James Nadal


Soul Jazz: Jazz In The Black Community, 1945-1975 Bob Porter281 Pages ISBN: #978- 15245-4786-8 Xlibris 2016 With the end of World War II, in 1945, there was great rejoicing and celebrating a triumph over evil, as the United States ushered in a new era. But with segregation still the norm, in the shadows of Black America, things remained the same. The black communities had their own support groups, their own heroes, and they ...

3
Live Review

Illinois Jacquet Foundation Benefit Weekend: Phoenix, AZ, May 17-19, 2013

Read "Illinois Jacquet Foundation Benefit Weekend: Phoenix, AZ, May 17-19, 2013" reviewed by Patricia Myers


Illinois Jacquet Foundation Benefit WeekendPhoenix, AZMay 17-19, 2013The 2013 Desert Winds Jazz Weekend celebrated the six-decade career of the late saxophonist Illinois Jacquet with three events that raised $10,000 for jazz scholarships and music education programs in Arizona. The Desert Winds designation was taken from the title of Jacquet's 1964 album for Argo.Predictably, the opening concert featured a lengthy rendition of “Flying Home," played by a college-age band, Mudsaw, at The Nash, the Phoenix education-performance ...

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Album Review

Illinois Jacquet: Swingin

Read "Swingin" reviewed by Jim Santella


Bandleader Illinois Jacquet suffered a heart attack and passed away at age 81, just six days after this ninety-minute, July 16th, 2004 plaza concert at Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing. It was his favorite engagement, his band's seventeenth appearance for the series. The previous May, the Juilliard School had awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Music degree and The Illinois Jacquet Scholarship in Jazz Studies has since been established to honor the memory of the saxophonist. This two-CD set captures ...

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Live From Philadelphia

Memories of Illinois

Read "Memories of Illinois" reviewed by AAJ Staff


Just one day after my tribute/obit to the death of Eddie Green and Arthur Harper, Illinois Jacquet, perhaps the most exciting tenor sax of the glory years, died at 81 from a heart attack.I was pretty much determined not to write another obit inasmuch as I had already done another in my prior column. Obits were the first stories I was assigned when I started my professional journalism life working as a daily newspaper reporter for the White ...

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Late Night Thoughts on Jazz

Jacquet and Granz: Class Acts

Read "Jacquet and Granz: Class Acts" reviewed by Marshall Bowden


The recent passing of jazz impresario Norman Granz brought to mind his Jazz at the Philharmonic series of concerts, and that brought to mind the person of Illinois Jacquet, who was a popular fixture at many of the JATP concerts. Jean Baptiste “Illinois" Jacquet was merely 19 years old when, as a member of Lionel Hampton's band, he blew a tenor solo on “Flying Home" that became a classic and oft-imitated solo. It was so popular that Jacquet ...

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Album Review

Illinois Jacquet and His Big Band: Jacquet's Got It

Read "Jacquet's Got It" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey


Illinois Jacquet has a rocking good time.

Jean Baptiste Illinois Jacquet is one of the last of the big tenors. LabelM's re-release of Jacquet's big band Atlantic Recording Jacquet's Got It is more than welcome. The majority of big band music being made today is experimental and progressive. While the UMO Jazz Orchestra and Pierre Dorge and the New Jungle Orchestra are creative vital forces in the genre, a band like that on Jacquet's Got It swings with an effortless ...

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