In 1981 tenor Sax legend Illinois Jacquet pursued his career-long dream of assembling a truly great big jazz band in the tradition of his mentors, Count Basie and Lionel Hampton, bands with whom he recorded and toured in his youth. He would apply all the wisdom and experience he gleaned as their sideman, as well as from his years of leadership over his many small groups, and would include songs he made famous with his "little big band" of the 1940s. The Illinois Jacquet Big Band was filled with luminaries and young stars, but unfortunately would only record one studio album entitled "Jacquet's Got It" on Atlantic Records, in 1987.
Here, for the first time in history, we have a snapshot of what that band was like on the road, playing live In Berlin at Philharmonic Hall. As listeners will easily hear, this band rocked the house, and swung hard! Illinois himself is in rare form, playing soulfully and strong, ripping through all his classics with fervor and fire. These wonderful arrangements are mostly by the pen of Eddie Barefield, Wild Bill Davis, and Phil Wilson. Featured here within the band are veterans such as Irvin Stokes, Johnny Grimes, Richard Wyands, Eddie Barefield, Rudy Rutherford, and Babe Clarke; as well as young lions such as Frank Lacy, Joey Cavaseno, Jesse Davis, and Henry Scott.