Illinois Jacquet was an American jazz saxophonist known for his powerful and energetic playing style. Born on October 30, 1922, in Broussard, Louisiana, Jacquet grew up in a musical family and began playing the saxophone at a young age.
In the 1940s, Jacquet moved to New York City and quickly became a fixture on the jazz scene. He played with a number of big bands, including those led by Lionel Hampton and Cab Calloway, before joining the Count Basie Orchestra in 1946.
Jacquet’s playing style was characterized by its aggressive, bluesy sound and his use of techniques like growling and honking. His solo on “Flying Home” with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra in 1942 became one of the most famous in jazz history and helped popularize the use of the saxophone as a solo instrument.
In addition to his work as a sideman, Jacquet also led his own bands and recorded numerous albums as a bandleader. His most famous album, “The King,” was released in 1968 and features a number of jazz standards and original compositions.
Throughout his career, Jacquet collaborated with a number of other jazz legends, including Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, and Dexter Gordon. He was also a mentor to many younger musicians and helped to inspire a new generation of jazz saxophonists.
Jacquet’s contributions to jazz have been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including induction into the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1991. He continued to perform and record well into his later years, and he passed away on July 22, 2004, in New York City.
Today, Jacquet is remembered as one of the greatest saxophonists in jazz history and a true pioneer of the instrument. His influence on jazz music and his legacy as a performer and educator continue to inspire new generations of musicians.
Page last updated 3/26/2023.