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Documentary: Texas Tenor

Illinois Jacquet


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October 31, 1922 - July 22, 2004


Jean-Baptiste Illinois Jacquet ...If his name sounds a wee bit creole, you're correct. He was born in Broussard, Louisiana.

However, his family moved to Houston when he was a baby and grew up to join the pantheon of tenor men that came out of Texas.

His father, Gilbert Jacquet, was bandleader and he and his brothers played in his dad's band as kids.

Jacquet started on alto, but later, after he'd moved to Los Angeles, band leader Lionel Hampton offered him a steady gig on the condition that he switched to tenor sax.

Somewhere along the line he picked up the bassoon, one of the very few jazzmen to play the instrument.

He moved from Hampton's band to Cab Calloway's and later started his own small unit with his brother Russell and a young Charles Mingus.

Around the same time, he appeared in the Academy Award-nominated short film "Jammin' the Blues" with Lester Young.

Enjoying a rich and varied career, he recorded albums as a leader for numerous labels including Aladdin, Apollo, Savoy, RCA, Verve, Mercury, Roulette, Epic, Argo, Prestige, Black Lion, and Atlantic.

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