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 we have a very early snapshot of what that band was like at the world famous Village Vanguard club in 1987, New York City. This is the third time Jacquet had played the Vanguard, and had previously broken attendance records in the club with what seemed to be a guerrilla marketing campaign in the streets of NYC in order to launch the debut of his Big Band. Some NYC Jazz fans may recall flyers being distributed all over town, especially in the Times Square area, revealing that the "missing in action" Jazz Legend Illinois Jacquet was indeed "back" with a full 15 piece Big Band on tow. Well, the promotions worked effectively, announcing that "The King" was back to take the jazz world by storm! This is the band after returning from their first major European tour for five weeks during the Summer of 1987, and their last engagement before hitting the studio to record "Jacquet's Got It" for Atlantic Records. 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, Phil Wilson, and Jimmy Mundy. Featured here within the band are veterans such as Irvin Stokes, Rodney Richardson, Johnny Grimes, Eddie Preston, Richard Wyands, Eddie Barefield, Rudy Rutherford, Babe Clarke, and the great Cecil Payne; as well as young lions such as Duffy Jackson, Frank Lacy, Henry Scott and Joey Cavaseno. Young Joey Cavaseno, who now has moved up to what will become a full-time position as lead alto with the band, who has now gained Jacquet's trust, brings in two new excellent young talents in the form of high-note specialist Henry Scott on trumpet, and trombonist Frank Lacy on trombone, working that plunger as well as swinging hard. This performance also features a very relaxed and deeper Jacquet than on most of his recordings; including a funny moment when Jacquet admonishes a patron who is smoking too close to the bandstand, to extinguish their cigarettes. We hope you will enjoy!