Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Willis Jackson & Pat Martino - Willis... With Pat (32Jazz, 1998)

Tenor saxophonist Willis "Gator" Jackson and guitarist Pat Martino performed together quite a bit in the 1960's and 70's in organ groove bands that were popular at the time. This album collects the highlights of the music they recorded for the Muse label, mostly under Jackson's leadership. The music on this CD is made up of R&B flavored cookers and slow jam ballads that would not be out of place in the Newark and Philadelphia taverns where the band plied its wares. "Gator Whale" which plays off of Jackson's nickname, and the storming "The Goose Is Loose" is indicative of the former, with the saxophonist peeling back layers of ripe melody like the layers of an onion, while Martino and a cookin' organist lay down a massive pocket and then take fine solos of their own. A version of Eric Dolphy's "Miss Ann" is something of a surprise for a groove based group, but they handle it with aplomb. The slower "Bolita" and the standard "My One and only Love" both play to the groups strength as ballad players, both Jackson and Martino are willing to take their time and let the music come to them and this patience is well rewarded with fine slow groove performances. This is a collection of very good bluesy jazz from a team whose time together was sadly cut short due to health problems. But while it lasted Jackson and Martino were a potent combo which produced enjoyable and accessible jazz.

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