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 the live excitement that surrounded Jacquet's big band and the musical swing that had driven him from the very beginning.
Jacquet, whose father led a big band in the deep South, started out with Milt Larkin's Orchestra in Texas, playing swing when it was just coming of age. He soon graduated to the bands of Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway and Count Basie, leaving his distinctive tenor saxophone imprint everywhere he went. Jacquet also sings several numbers for posterity and plays alto for "On the Sunny Side of the Street. Typical for a live recording, there are many distracting sounds that leave many of the solo spots hanging out to dry. Nevertheless, the spirit was there and Jacquet is represented well. His soulful tenor impresses on "Flying Home as strongly as it did in 1942 with Hampton's Orchestra. "More Than You Know, "All the Things You Are, "Blues from Louisiana and "Black Velvet are among the album's selections that feature him in his prime.
The concert includes outstanding solo work from several band members: tenor saxophonist Julius Tolentino on the band's extended arrangement of "Tickletoe ; alto saxophonist Vincent Lardear on "Doggin' Around ; and trumpeter Freddie Hendrix on "Night Train. The band's enjoyment is palpable and, as Jacquet closes the concert with a strong finish on "Flying Home, they soar alongside his powerful leadership and persuasive tenor.
Track Listing: Stompin at the Savoy; Opus One; Dont Blame Me; Tickletoe; Black Velvet; Blues from Louisiana; Doggin Around; Just in Time; All Of Me; Night Train; On the Sunny Side of the Street; All the Things You Are; More Than You Know; Flying Home.
Personnel: Illinois Jacquet, bandleader, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, vocals; Freddie Hendrix, Melvin Jones, Lee Hogans, Aaron Flagg: trumpet; Danny Kirkhum, James Burton III, Michael Dease: trombone; Vincent Lardear: alto saxophone, clarinet; Kris Allen: alto saxophone; Art Daniels, Julius Tolentino: tenor saxophone; Tom Olin: baritone saxophone; Ed Stoute: piano; Fred Hunter: double bass; Dave Gibson: drums.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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