In the 60’s, Jacquet mastered the bassoon and recorded with it; he traveled and recorded as a trio with Milt Buckner and Jo Jones, and in the late 70’s he worked as a quintet with Slam Stewart on bass and Gray Sargent on guitar.
An invitation to lecture to a jazz history class at Harvard University in 1982, led to Illinois Jacquet’s appointment as Kayden Artist-in-Residence in 1983 and 1984, bestowing upon him the honor of becoming the first jazz musician to serve a long-term residency at Harvard. His many subsequent master classes in the ensuing years have earned him the distinction, at that time, of having visited Harvard more frequently than any other artist in any field.
His Harvard students gave Jacquet the inspiration to form his professional big band in 1983, which he maintained until his death, traveling and performing throughout the United States and Europe. He recorded grammy-award nominated “Jacquet’s Got It” with the band for Atlantic Records in 1987, and Jacquet and the band were the subject of Arthur Elgort’s award-winning documentary, “Texas Tenor, The Illinois Jacquet Story” released in 1991.
The Chestnut Room at The Tavern On The Green became the showcase for The Illinois Jacquet Big Band in the 1990’s attracting people from all over the world and from all walks of life to hear his music.
In 1992, when Illinois Jaquet and his Big Band were invited to play for President Clinton’s Inaugural Ball, the President jammed with the band on "C Jam Blues", playing Jacquet’s gold saxophone. Jacquet had been instructed to bring an extra saxophone along to Washington in order to make this session possible. Clinton disclosed to Jacquet that he had been a fan of his music since the age of ten.
To commemorate Duke Ellington’s 100th birthday in 1999, Illinois was invited to perform as a featured soloist with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in the Great Performances documentary, “Swinging with the Duke.” In November 2000, Lincoln Center honored Jacquet by presenting him with its Award for Artistic Excellence, making him the fifth recipient of this distinguished award.