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Album Review

While touring through Texas in 1945 with the Lucky Millinder Orchestra, Benjamin Clarence Jackson, Jr. was dubbed Bull Moose Jackson by drummer Panama Francis, who apparently exclaimed: "You look like a moose coming over the hill." Tall and powerful with a friendly expressive face, the bespectacled saxophonist was riding a tide of popular success by the time these recordings were cut for the King label between September 1947 and September 1950 in New York, NY; Linden, NJ; St. Louis, MO; and Cincinnati, OH. Bull Moose Jackson & His Buffalo Bearcats (the "Buffalo" was dropped beginning in 1950) were an all-purpose R&B jump band balancing upbeat novelty cookers with remarkably handsome ballads. The Bull Moose discography glistens occasionally with the names of jazz heroes like Count Basie's flute and saxman Frank Wess and Ellington trumpeter Harold "Money" Johnson. It's obvious why these records were popular in their day. The wide range of topics and textures is well represented here as titles like "Love Me Tonight" and "My Beloved" appear alongside "Fare Thee Well Deacon Jones" and "Big Fat Mamas Are Back in Style." Some of these songs were composed by King kingpins Syd Nathan and Henry Glover (with Nathan sometimes using the pseudonym Sally Nix), and Lucky Millinder's name appears in the composer credits as well. Other songs represent clearly discernible links with the country music market, as is the case with Wayne Raney's "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me," here given the robust handclapping treatment so typical of Bull Moose Jackson.


Born: 22 April 1919 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: Blues

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

Allegedly, Benjamin Jackson resembled a bull moose. At least, that's what a few wags in Lucky Millinder's band thought -- and the colorful moniker stuck. Up until then, he was Benjamin Jackson, but it was as Bull Moose that he lit up the R&B charts repeatedly during the late '40s and early '50s. Jackson had a split musical personality -- he sang "I Love You, Yes I Do" and "All My Love Belongs to You" like a pop crooner, then switched gears to belt out the double-entendre naughties "I Want a Bowlegged...
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1947-1950, Bull Moose Jackson
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