Although the Delmark label has done a fine job of reissuing Illinois Jacquet's Apollo recordings, a genuine understanding of this exciting music requires a more systematic appraisal of the recorded evidence. Being able to digest an entire segment of Jacquet's career, with the recordings chronologically arranged and garnished with complete discographical information, is a major treat for anyone wishing to place the music in context. This also expands the picture well beyond Apollo to include material recorded for the Philo, Savoy, and ARA labels, and clears up a few mysteries regarding personnel. The first four tracks were recorded in July of 1945 and set a standard for modern jump music combining elements that would soon be tagged as bebop and R&B. The steamy "Flying Home" was carefully arranged to fit on two sides of a 10" 78-rpm record. "Uptown Boogie" features pianist Sir Charles Thompson bolstered by excellent rhythmic support from drummer Johnny Otis. Illinois himself was always a commanding presence whether laying down a cool blues, smoothing out a ballad, or applying a blowtorch to one of his rowdy jump tunes. Trumpeter Russell Jacquet is heard singing the only two vocal tracks on the entire album, "Throw It Out of Your Mind Baby" and "Wondering and Thinking of You." The two Apollo sessions from August 1945 are driven by the pulsing bass of young Charles Mingus, Bill Doggett's double-fisted piano, and some feisty drumming by Al "Cake" Wichard. For a precious glimpse into the developing ballad philosophy of Mr. Mingus, listen carefully to his accompaniment behind Jacquet's passionate sax on "Memories of You" and "Ghost of a Chance." Ming walks briskly through "Bottoms Up," a rocking re-bop dance with howling horns and strutting rhythm. "Merle's Mood" seems to have been based upon "Paper Moon," and Mingus crowds the microphone to provide extra pushes during Bill Doggett's "What's This." Two sides waxed for ARA at the end of the same month and issued as by the Jacque Rabbits are graced with the return of Sir Charles, whose composition "Ladies Lullaby" is actually another jump tune fortified with bop ideas. "Illinois Stomp" is a very sophisticated bounce. The closing eight tracks were originally issued bearing the Savoy label, and feature trumpeter Emmett Berry, an interesting blend with the salty and often florid Mr. Jacquet. (The last three selections in fact were issued under the name of Emmett Berry's Hot Six.) "Don't Blame Me" is one of this saxophonist's great triumphs of ballad artistry. The spicy "Jumpin' Jacquet" is driven by rhythm guitarist Freddie Green, bassist John Simmons, and master percussionist Shadow Wilson, while Berry percolates using a mute. "Blue Mood" is a meditative masterpiece. Every single track on this CD is strongly presented and well worth experiencing again and again, with best wishes for loosening up, nodding your head, popping your fingers, and cracking a smile.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: The Jacque Rabbits
feat: The Jacque Rabbits