Illinois Jacquet jumped from being a little-known 19-year-old to the tenor to emulate when he soloed on "Flying Home" in Lionel Hampton's band in 1942. This, in turn, brought him to the attention of Cab Calloway in 1943 and eventually helped him found his own band in the mid-'40s. Jumpin' at Apollo delivers 23 tunes Jacquet recorded as a leader between 1945 and 1947 with a number of star side players, including bassist Charles Mingus, trumpeter Joe Newman, and pianist Bill Doggett. Small-band settings, ranging from six to eight players, provide Jacquet's tenor plenty of cushion to swing against. On the jaunty "Jacquet Bounce," Doggett's light touch and John Simmons' steady bassline call to mind the Count Basie sound, while the gentle "Robin's Nest" gives Jacquet room to show off his dexterity as a ballad player. "Bottom's Up," as Dan Morgenstern points out in the liner notes, is another take on "Flying Home," giving the star of this set a chance to revisit his signature tune. There's also a great big noisy Jacquet solo on the rollicking "12 Minutes to Go." Both cuts offer a good reminder of why Jacquet's tenor style caused so much of a stir in the 1940s and why his influence spread so rapidly. Jumpin' at Apollo offers listeners a fine introduction to a powerful and influential tenor.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.