Willis "Gator" Jackson (April 25, 1932 – October 25, 1987) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist.
Born in Miami, Florida, Jackson joined Duke Ellington alumnus Cootie Williams's band in 1949 as a teenager, after being discovered by Eddie Vinson. During the 1950s Jackson participated in R&B and jazz recordings, primarily as a session musician. He also toured as leader of the backing band of singer Ruth Brown, whom he married. Jackson joined Prestige Records in 1959, making a string of jazz albums that proved to an influence on the burgeoning soul jazz movement. During this era, Jack McDuff and Pat Martino became famous through association with Jackson. Jackson's main influences were Lester Young and Illinois Jacquet.
Jamaican ska innovator Prince Buster has cited Jackson's song "Later for the Gator" as one of the first ska songs.
Jackson died in New York one week after heart surgery, in October 1987, at the age of 55.
- Please Mr. Jackson (Prestige, 1959) - with Jack McDuff and Bill Jennings
- Cool "Gator" (Prestige, 1959–60) with Jack McDuff and Bill Jennings [also released as Keep on a Blowin]
- Blue Gator (Prestige, 1959–60)
- Cookin' Sherry (Prestige, 1959-60 1961)
- Together Again! (Prestige, 1959-60 ) - with Jack McDuff
- Really Groovin' (Prestige, 1961)[also released as Swingtime]
- In My Solitude (Moodsville, 1961)
- Together Again, Again (Prestige 1959-1961 ) - with Brother Jack McDuff
- Thunderbird (Prestige, 1962)
- Johnny "Hammond" Cooks with Gator Tail (Prestige, 1962) - with Johnny "Hammond" Smith
- Bossa Nova Plus (Prestige, 1962) [also released as Shuckin']
- Neapolitan Nights (Prestige, 1962)
- Loose... (Prestige, 1963)
- Grease 'n' Gravy (Prestige, 1963)
- The Good Life (Prestige, 1963)
- More Gravy (Prestige, 1963)
- Boss Shoutin' (Prestige, 1964)
- Jackson's Action! (Prestige, 1964)
- Live! Action (Prestige, 1964 )
- Soul Night/Live! (Prestige, 1964 )
- Tell It... (Prestige, 1964 )
- 'Gator Tails (Verve, 1964) [also released as Willis Jackson]
- Smoking with Willis (Cadet, 1965)
- Soul Grabber (Prestige, 1967)
- Star Bag (Prestige, 1968)
- Swivelhips (Prestige, 1968)
- Gator's Groove (Prestige, 1968)
- Mellow Blues (Upfront, 1970)
- Recording Session (Big Chance, 1970)
- Gatorade (Prestige, 1971)
- West Africa (Muse, 1973)
- Headed and Gutted (Muse, 1974)
- The Way We Were (Atlantic, 1975)
- Funky Reggae (Trip, 1976)
- In the Alley (Muse, 1976)
- Plays with Feeling (Cotillion), 1976
- The Gator Horn (Muse, 1977)
- Bar Wars (Muse, 1977)
- Single Action - with Pat Martino (Muse, 1978)
- Lockin' Horns - with Von Freeman (Muse, 1978)
- In Chateauneuf du Pape (Black and Blue, 1980) - also released as Ya Understand Me? (Muse, 1980)
- Nothin' Butt (Muse, 1980)
- Plays Around With Hits (Jazz Trip), 19??
- The Best Of Willis Jackson - Willis Jackson With Brother Jack McDuff (Prestige), 1972 compilation
- On My Own (Whiskey, Women, And ... Record Company), 1986 compilation of fifties tracks
- The Best Of Willis Jackson Volume One - Gator's Groove (Ace), 1988 compilation of Prestige recordings
- Legends Of Acid Jazz - Willis Jackson (Prestige), 1998 compilation of "Blue Gator" & "Cookin' Sherry"
- Legends Of Acid Jazz - Keep on a Blowin' (Prestige), 1999 compilation of "Keep on a Blowin'" & "Thunderbird"
- At Large (Prestige), 2000 compilation
- Willis Jackson With Pat Martino – Gravy (Prestige), 2001 compilation
- Willis Jackson With Jack McDuff – Together Again! (Prestige), 2003 compilation
- After Hours (Prestige), 2004 compilation of "Loose..." & "Soul Grabber"
||This section requires expansion. (September 2015)
With Ruth Brown