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Later for the Gator

Willis "Gator Tail" Jackson

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Album Review

With his raw, jump blues-inflected tenor sax style, full of all manner of honks and squeals delivered at maximum force, Willis "Gator" Jackson was never less than exciting as he walked the line between the worlds of jazz and R&B during his career. This generous set features Jackson with the Cootie Williams Orchestra (including Jackson's signature "Gator Tail"), the Bobby Smith Orchestra, heading up a few tracks on his own as bandleader, and supporting his then-wife Ruth Brown on a trio of blues tracks. It's a delightful anthology, full of Jackson's obvious joy at making music. Highlights include the two-part "Gator Tail," the after hours "More Blues at Midnight" (which shows Jackson could blow straight jazz when he choose to do so) and the huge-sounding "Gator's Groove," which prefigures the organ groups that would occupy Jackson's attention in the latter stages of his career. A fun and joyful set.

Biography

Born: 25 April 1932 in Miami, FL

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

An exciting tenor saxophonist whose honking and squeals (although influenced by Illinois Jacquet) were quite distinctive, Willis Jackson was also a strong improviser who sounded perfectly at home with organ groups. He played locally in Florida early on, until joining Cootie Williams (on and off during 1948-1955). His two-sided honking feature "Gator Tail" with "Cootie" (which earned Williams a lifelong nickname) was a hit in 1948, and he started recording as a leader in 1950. Jackson had a romantic...
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Later for the Gator, Willis "Gator Tail" Jackson
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