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A Hoot - Fred Jackson

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Tenor sax man Fred Jackson released only one album as a leader, but it was a fine one. Jackson got his start playing in Little Richard's band in the early 1950s. Later, he toured with rhythm-and-blues vocalist Lloyd Price, who was most famous for the single “Stagger Lee," and he also recorded with B.B King. In 1961, Jackson appeared on Baby Face Willette's Face to Face for Blue Note Records. His inventive playing on this album - he uses the whole bag of sax tricks available to him - landed him his own date as a leader the following year.

In February 1962, Jackson stepped into Van Gelder Studio and recorded Hootin' 'n Tootin' with other Lloyd Price veterans - Earl Vandyke on organ, Willie Jones on guitar, and Wilbert Hogan on drums. The result is a bluesy classic. Jackson's playing is a mix of hard bop, earthy blues, and soul-jazz. The first tune, “Dippin' in the Bag," is an uptempo blues with Vandyke comping on organ and Jones and Jackson both taking extended solos. “Southern Exposure" is a more lowdown affair, a slow swinger with Jackson laying down the blues in a quiet wail (if that's possible). The album continues to vary between swinging and shouting ravers and slower, R&B-inspired jazz, all showcasing Jackson's searching solos.

Jackson had a second recording session in April 1962 with the same band, with the addition of Sam Jones on bass. Unfortunately, Hootin' didn't sell well and the tunes from the second session weren't released. Fortunately, for the reissue of Hootin' in 1998, Blue Note tacked on these seven tracks. Again, it's a mix of burners such as “Stretchin' Out" (what's Jackson got against including final g's?) and “On the Spot" with more low-down blues such as “Egypt Land" and “Minor Exposure" (my personal favorite of all fourteen tunes).

Jackson later recorded with organist Big John Patton and then basically disappeared from the jazz scene. His bluesy and inspired playing on the sax from his all-too-brief stint as a jazzman is worth seeking out.

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This story appears courtesy of Riffs on Jazz by John Anderson.
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