Willis "Gator" Jackson

The Good Life

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Cut at the same May 1963 session as Jackson's LP Grease 'n' Gravy, this too features an 18-year-old Pat Martino on guitar and Carl Wilson (not the Beach Boys guitarist) on organ. It's 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. If you have to choose between Grease 'n' Gravy and The Good Life, The Good Life is at a disadvantage, due to its greater reliance on covers of pop standards. But unless you're a vinyl purist, you don't have to worry about making a choice anymore, since Grease 'n' Gravy and The Good Life have been combined into the single-CD Prestige reissue Gravy.

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