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VIDEO REVIEW : 'Texas Tenor' a Stylish Bio of Jacquet

September 17, 1993|LEONARD FEATHER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"Texas Tenor: The Illinois Jacquet Story" (Rhapsody Films, 81 minutes, $30), which has been shown theatrically, is now available on home video (and also will be carried on the Bravo cable channel Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.). Directed by the celebrated fashion photographer Arthur Elgort, it is a stylishly presented work that covers more aspects of the saxophonist's life than might have been thought possible.

Born in Louisiana but raised in Houston, Jacquet came to prominence through a solo he played on Lionel Hampton's record of "Flyin' Home." Because it became his foremost identification, considerable space is given to it here, along with a virtual conducted tour showing the artist's life--in Boston and Paris, back home on Long Island, teaching at Harvard, visiting a sax repair shop.

Jacquet's big, warm sound and distinctive style are well displayed, though he is also seen singing and dancing, talking about the evolution of his style, and yielding the camera to several contemporaries who offer their evaluations of him: Sonny Rollins, Buddy Tate, Sweets Edison, Clark Terry, the late Dizzy Gillespie. Footage was also shot aboard the S.S. Norway, where Jacquet's big band has enjoyed annual successes.

"Texas Tenor" captures with pinpoint accuracy the spirit and sensuality of Jacquet's improvisational talent. Elgort evinces a clear understanding of his subject; the result is a documentary of rare and durable value.

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