Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
This isn't a film about a singer from the Lone Star state. "Texas Tenor" is a style of playing the saxophone which brings out its big sound and biggest volume. This documentary does a creditable job of exploring the life and times of the popularly unknown jazz and R&B saxophone legend Illinois Jacquet. He has played with most of the greats and almost single-handedly developed a rompin'-stompin' saxophone sound which has been a feature of great R&B ever since. A virtuoso performer with masterful phrasing, he became a star in the 1940s under the tutelage of Lionel Hampton, who had him change from alto to tenor sax and then gave him the opportunity to record an epochal solo in Flying Home. In addition to past and current performance and backstage footage, many jazz and rhythm and blues greats comment on Jacquet's playing and his place in music history. Some jazz-knowledgeable reviewers, evidently hoping for an entirely different and more erudite treatment, expressed disappointment in this documentary, others lauded it as one of the best ever made.