Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Illinois Jacquet Big Band, Part I

© photography by William Ellis
Once again, I've used a birthday as the pretext to celebrate one's art. Today's Illinois Jacquet's day and the birthday present is a rare video of his big band in Bern, 1998.

Naturally, the concert in its entirety serves as an overview of his career and inclusion of each song in the repertoire reflects a stage of Illinois' career, starting from the smashing hit Flying Home with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra to the standards of the Count Basie songbook.

As for the man himself and his stimulating sound, he is praised as the primary example of the Texas sound, or as Richard Cook observes, permanently saddled "with the largely meaningless 'Texas tenor' tag," which is basically "big, blues tone, edged with a kind of desperate loneliness that somehow underlines Jacquet's permanent status a guest star." Still, a better definition is given by Brian Priestley:

"Meaty but tense and urgent in a way that gave a new meaning to the word hot. Part of it related to the bent notes that had been found in the vocal blues, and part of it rested in the fondness for a riff, or rather the use of riff-type melodic ideas, in building an improvised solo."
However, in Jacquet's big bands, unlike his early small combos, there is hardly any space for unleashed emotions and audience-provoking screams. This is a band with ideas and then enough rigour to accomplish them. Along with Jacquet himself, many other top soloists are featured that I sadly have no knowledge of their names, so in my "order of solo" list, in front of each song, those musicians who I couldn't recognize are left with a ? mark. For correction and completion of the line-up, especially soloists, I need your help.

The name of the band members that I'm sure of are:

Winston Byrd (tp)
Joey "G-Clef" Cavaseno, Julian Pressley (as) 
Arthur Daniels (ts)
Tom Olin (barsax)
Richard Wyands (p), Fred Hunter (b), Clyde Lucas (d)

Set List:

00:22 Robbin's Nest (Soloist: Jacquet)
04:42 Stompin' at the Savoy (Soloists: Mike Grey?, Jacquet, James Zollar, Clyde Lucas)
10:00 Willow Weep For Me (Soloist: Joey "G-Clef" Cavaseno)
14:30 Tickle Toe (Soloists: Jacquet, Grey?, 2nd trombone?, Cavaseno, Zollar, Winston Byrd, Clyde Lucas)

Watch this space for the second half of the concert. It will be posted soon.


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