Born in Broussard, Louisiana in 1922, Illinois Jacquet moved to Houston when he was six months old. His father was a bassist with a railroad company band, and he had three brothers who were also musicians. Jacquet started on soprano and alto sax in the late 1930s and played with Lionel Proctor, Bob Cooper, and Milton Larkin's bands. He went to the west coast in 1941 and there joined Lionel Hampton in whose band his solo on "Flying Home" attracted wide attention and, in effect, started a whole new school of "big-toned, extrovert, erotic tenor sax stylists. "He worked with Cab Calloway from 1943 to 1944 and Count Basie from 1945 to 1946, then alternated between touring with his own band and JATP units from 1983, playing frequently for the remainder of his life.
From the guide to the Illinois Jacquet Collection MSS 403., 1990, (Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library)