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This Week In Texas Music History: Illinois Jacquet’s Last Public Performance in NYC

Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll hear from a jazz player who helped pioneer the Texas tenor sound.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.

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On July 16, 2004, Illinois Jacquet gave his last public performance in New York City. Born in Louisiana in 1922 to a Sioux Indian mother and Black Creole father, Jacquet was still an infant when his family moved to Houston. As a teenager, he toured with Milt Larkin’s orchestra, and, by 1942, Jacquet was playing in Lionel Hampton’s band. That same year, Illinois Jacquet recorded his groundbreaking saxophone solo in the popular song “Flying Home.”

Illinois Jacquet became known for his unique “honking” style of playing. Along with Herschel Evans, Arnett Cobb and Buddy Tate, Jacquet helped create the so-called Texas tenor sound, which had a profound influence on such legendary horn players as Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a man whose political and musical leadership helped reshape San Antonio.