FAMED TEXAS TENOR ILLINOIS JACQUET’S very first session, with Lionel Hampton in May 1942, yielded “Flying Home” (heard on Hamp: The Legendary Decca Recordings[Decca]). It was his most famous record, but it was only the beginning of a long and impressive recording career. His 1946 work with Count Basie (“Mutton Leg,” from Basie’s 1946–1947[Classics] is one of Jacquet’s standouts with the band) and his appearances with the Jazz at the Philharmonic all-star assemblages continued to showcase Jacquet as the Texas screamer (best heard on Jazz at the Philharmonic: First Concert[Verve]). Yet his small group recordings, which began in 1945 for labels like Aladdin, Apollo, Savoy, ARA, and RCA-Victor, are the sessions that demonstrate his amazing versatility as a player. Swinging with a soulful backbeat, Jacquet led such future R&B stars as Wynonie Harris and Johnny Otis alongside cameos from future bebop sensations Fats Navarro and Miles Davis. His 1945–1950 output is collected in its entirety on the soon-to-be-deleted four-CD set The Complete Illinois Jacquet Sessions 1945–50 (Mosaic, available through mosaicrecords.com). A single CD compilation of his Apollo material, Jumpin’ at Apollo (Delmark) was also recently released. Jacquet opted for a more elegant sound on his fifties Verve recordings (collected on Flying Home: The Best of the Verve Years[Verve]). One of the best of his bluesy sixties sessions can be found on The Blues: That’s Me!(OJC). Finally, 1988’s Jacquet’s Got It! (Atlantic) is the sole U.S. recording of the big band Jacquet launched in 1983, which is still going strong.
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