Willis “Gator” Jackson (b. 1928) was a dynamic saxophonist who was adept at R&B, rock and roll, blues, and various styles of jazz including bebop and swing. He played with a forceful tone and was excellent at building suspense with his solos. He also designed a modified saxophone called the Gator horn. It had a ball-shaped bell with a small opening which gave it a pitch between an alto and soprano typically employed on ballads.
Jackson got the nickname Gator after his composition “Gator Tail” was a big hit for Cootie Williams. Jackson made recordings with Booty Wood, Bill Doggett, and Panama Francis. He started leading his own bands in the ‘50’s recording for Atlantic, Atco, Deluxe, and Prestige. He backed his then wife, Ruth Brown, for Atlantic. He also worked alongside Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. He was no stranger to the chitlin’ circuit touring relentlessly from the ‘50’s until his death in 1987. When he began recording soul jazz sides for Prestige in the 60’s his fame spread. After Hours culls tracks from two of his 60’s releases, Loose… and Soul Grabber for a 15 song disc.
There are 5 cuts from 1963’s Loose… produced by Ozzie Cadena and 10 from 1967’s Cal Lampley produced Soul Grabber. The players joining Jackson on Loose… are Frank Robinson – trumpet, Carl Wilson – organ, Bill Jones – guitar, and Joe Hadrick on drums. Carl Wilson on the Hammond B-3 is a real treat on the title track “After Hours” and he’s along for the ride on the Soul Grabber recordings also. Wilbur “Dud” Bascomb and Sammy Lowe are on trumpets, Haywood Henry plays baritone sax, Wally Richardson or Lloyd Davis are the axe slingers, Bob Bushnell plays electric bass, and Lawrence Wright keeps the beat. The 10 numbers from Soul Grabber are quintessential upbeat soul jazz, swinging good fun for the mod set during its original release and still a blast today. After Hours is a fine distallation of Willis "Gator" Jackson's soul jazz playing.