Willis "Gator" Jackson

Gravy

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This combines two LPs, Grease 'n' Gravy and The Good Life, both cut at sessions on May 23 and May 24 of 1963, onto a single CD. Both feature a quintet of Willis "Gator" Jackson, Carl Wilson (not the Beach Boys guitarist) on organ, Pat Martino on guitar, Frank Robinson on trumpet, and Joe Hadrick on drums; Leonard Gaskin added bass to about half the tracks. Grease 'n' Gravy is respectable, not-too-cool and not-too-hot early-'60s organ-sax jazz, with Wilson's organ and the still-teenaged Martino's guitar as vital to the success of the date as Jackson's tenor sax. Except for a three-minute revival of "Stompin' at the Savoy," most of the grooves settle in for a half-dozen minutes or so, with the up-tempo "Brother Elijah" and "Grease" working best. They play a smoldering, soulful slow strut for eleven-a-half minutes on "Gra-a-a-vy," though. The Good Life is pleasing, if unsurprising, early-'60s organ soul-jazz with a good balance between brass, organ, and guitar, perhaps more useful as club groove music than home listening. They verge on cooking when the rhythm gets choked on "Troubled Times" (the sole original), and the version of "Fly Me to the Moon" has some lively exuberance (and a Latin rhythm) not matched by the other tracks. Indeed, "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Walk Right In" are kinda hokey choices for the organ soul-jazz repertoire. In comparing Grease 'n' Gravy to The Good Life, The Good Life is at a disadvantage, due to its greater reliance on covers of pop standards.

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