Illinois Jacquet

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Illinois Jacquet, circa May 1947.
Photograph by William P. Gottlieb .

Illinois Jacquet (actually Jean-Baptiste Jacquet ; born October 31, 1922 in Broussard , Louisiana , † July 22, 2004 in New York ) was an American jazz musician . The tenor saxophonist was known for his cross-style ideas and compositions and played with almost every jazz and blues great of his time.

He became famous in 1942 with his 80-second solo in Lionel Hampton's Flying Home . Since 1981 he has performed with his own big band. Jacquet was considered one of the greatest saxophonists in jazz history . He became known to a wider audience in 1993 when he performed a duet with the then US President and hobby saxophonist Bill Clinton for his inauguration. He gave his last concert on July 16, 2004 in New York; six days later he died of a heart attack .


Illinois Jacquet's tomb in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx

Jean-Baptiste "Illinois" Jacquet was the son of a Sioux Indian and a Creole railroad worker. The nickname "Illinois" was derived from the Indian word Illinoisiwek (= superior man). His older brother was the trumpeter Russell Jacquet (1917–1990).

Jacquet began as a tap dancer in his father's big band when he was three . He later played drums there , then saxophone. As a member of the big band Lionel Hamptons, Jacquet played a solo in a completely new style in 1942 at the age of 19 in the song Flying Home . This is how other popular musicians became aware of him. In 1945 he jumped in for Lester Young in the Count Basie band and recorded numerous hits with her. In 1946 Jacquet founded his first band and went on a world tour with her at an early age.

In 1983 he expanded it into a large orchestra with which he toured the USA and Europe for over 20 years . Jacquet also accompanied the likes of Louis Armstrong , Nat King Cole , Dizzy Gillespie , Charlie Parker , Jo Jones , Buddy Rich , Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis .

Jacquet's best known pieces include Black Velvet , Robbin's Nest and Port of Rico . His impulsiveness made him a crowd puller on the global tours Jazz at the Philharmonic . His life and work was filmed in Arthur Elgort's documentary Texas Tenor - The Illinois Jacquet Story in 1992 . Among the cast is legendary bassist Ray Brown .

His grave is in New York in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, next to the grave of Miles Davis.

Discography (selection)

Blow illinois Blow , Aladdin Records, 78 single
  • 2004: Collates
  • 2004: Jacquet's Street [2004]
  • 2003: Live at Schaffhausen: March 1978
  • 2002: The Man I Love
  • 1999: Birthday Party
  • 1996: Big Horn
  • 1994: His All Star New York Band
  • 1994: Jazz at the Philharmonic: First Concert
  • 1988: Jacquet's Got It!
  • 1980: JSP Jazz Sessions, Vol. 1: New York
  • 1978: God Bless My Solo
  • 1976: On Jacquet's Street
  • 1973: The Man I Love (Black & Blue)
  • 1973: Blues from Louisiana
  • 1971: The Comeback
  • 1971: Genius at Work
  • 1969: The Blues: That's Me!
  • 1969: The Soul Explosion
  • 1968: Illinois Jacquet on Prestige! Bottoms up
  • 1968: The King
  • 1968: Bottoms Up
  • 1968: How High the Moon
  • 1966: Go Power
  • 1966: Illinois Flies Again


Web links


  1. or La Broussard