The Best of Louis Jordan
No Jump Blues Jumped Harder or Higher
Louis Jordan (1908–1975) gave hipster highlife a suitably swinging soundtrack. Together with his band the Tympany Five (which frequently numbered more than five musicians), the alto saxophonist and singer turned the irrational exuberance of a Saturday night into a cause célèbre, and went to great lengths to immortalize its pleasures. With flip, lingo-laced lyrics, he romanticized the house party and the fish fry, and during an incredible run (more than fifty singles on Billboard's R&B chart) that began in 1942 and ended nearly a decade later, Jordan's brisk hotfooting music helped lighten up the hard times. His jump blues and boogie established the basic framework of rock and roll; Bill Haley, Ray Charles, and others mentioned Jordan's group as a primary inspiration.
Born in Arkansas, the son of a bandleader, Jordan understood the American need for escape, especially among those who lacked the funds to party. During World War II, he worked for the Armed Forces Radio network and appeared in short "soundie" films. Eventually Jordan was featured in Hollywood films, including Follow the Boys and the musical Beware, one of the few with an all–African American cast. (A 1980s Broadway musical, Five Guys Named Mo, was built on, and extended, the Jordan myth.)
For all his skill as an entertainer, Jordan was no slouch behind the saxophone, and as the twenty jukebox-rocking career highlights here demonstrate, he maintained a band that could really play. The material hits spots along the spectrum between kitschy ("Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens") and sublime ("Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'"); all of it is powered by that steamrolling Louis Jordan rhythm, which spreads pure joy as it clacketyclacks down the tracks.
Released: 1975, MCA
Key Tracks: All of them.
Buyer Beware: There are over a dozen Jordan anthologies, including several that contain rerecordings Jordan made in the '60s. The more desirable versions were recorded in the '40s and '50s and originally issued by Decca.
Next Stop: Big Joe Turner: Boss of the Blues
After That: T-Bone Walker: Shotgun
Book Pages: 412–413
#1 from Alex - 06/15/2012 7:33
The most important originator of R&B was Louis Jordan, who, in the early 40’s, was the main pioneer of the movement away from big bands playing swing to small combos playing jump blues. It was from these mid-40’s jump blues bands that R&B originated in the late 40’s. He and his band The Tympany Five, were by far the biggest-selling act in black music during the 1940’s. Jordan’s main hits were, “Caldonia,” “Choo-Choo-Ch’boogie,” and roughly a dozen more that were number one hits on the black charts.
When Chuck Berry appeared on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1987, Johnny asked him who his main inspiration was, and he said, “Here, here, I’ll tell you. The main guy was Louis Jordan…” This single comment by Chuck Berry sent the world on such a mad search for information about the man, that it culminated in a Broadway musical called “Five Guys Named Moe,” which was Jordan’s nickname for his band. The comment also resulted in Louis Jordan being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987, when the previous year, 1986, he had been almost unknown to rock fans in general.