Louis Thomas Jordan (July 8, 1908 – February 4, 1975) was an American musician, songwriter and bandleader who was popular from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Known as “The King of the Jukebox”, his highest profile came towards the end of the swing era.
Jordan was a talented singer with great comedic flair, and he fronted his own band for more than twenty years. He duetted with some of the biggest solo singing stars of his time, including Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Jordan was also an actor and a film personality—he appeared in dozens of “soundies” (promotional film clips), made numerous cameos in mainstream features and short films, and starred in two musical feature films made especially for him. He was an instrumentalist who played all forms of the saxophone but specialized in the alto. He also played the piano and clarinet. A productive songwriter, he wrote or co-wrote many songs that were influential classics of 20th-century popular music.
10. Hallelujah… Louis Jordan Is Back – Louis Jordan (1964)
9. Man, We’re Wailin – Louis Jordan (1958)
One of the heaviest of Louis’ mid 50s recordings – recorded live, or so we’re supposed to think by the subtitle – which reads “Louis Jordan & His Brilliant Tympany 5 In A Typical Late, Late, Late Night Club Performance”! Louis’ voice and sax are better than we remember from many other recordings of the time – and he’s backed by a small combo that includes Jackie Davis on organ, Irving Ashby on guitar, and Billy Hadnott on bass – all grooving in a loose and free style that makes for a nicely spontaneous feel. Titles include “The Jamf”, “The Slop”, “Saturday Night Fish Fry”, “I Never Had A Chance”, and “A Man Ain’t A Man”. Great stuff all around!
8. Cole Slaw – Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (1947 to 1952)
16 killer small combo tracks from one of the godfathers of R&B – titles that include “Is My Pop In There”, “Time Marches On”, “Jordan For President”, “Junco Partner”, “Weak Minded Blues”, “Cole Slaw”, “Don’t Burn The Candle At Both Ends”, “Azure Te”, “Oil Well Texas”, and “Hungry Man”
7. Knock Me Out Vol. 2 – Louis Jordan (1940 – 1942)
6. V-Disc Recording – Louis Jordan (1943 – 1945)
During this 1943-1945 period, Jordan was at the top of his form, combining his special blend of musicianship and showmanship as he and the Five romp through a play list of up-tempo numbers for the benefit of the men in the armed services during World War II. Included on the program are Jordan compositions that have become classics, such as “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” Longtime Tympany Five trumpet player Eddie Roane gets a lot of exposure. His fabulous lead on “I Like ‘Em Fat Like That” and the give and take with Jordan on “I’ve Found a New Baby” are two of the album’s highlights. Wild Bill Davis shows up to play the piano on “Bahama Joe” and “Nobody But Me.” This is an album that simply bursts with joy in a harmony of jazz and blues as only Jordan could provide.
5. The Best Of – Louis Jordan (1975)
A great collection of Jordan’s material from the mid 40s to the mid 50s – starting with his jazzy numbers of the earlier years, and moving into the more blues/rock ‘n roll sound of later recordings. His band always sounds great and it also sounds like they’re having a good time especially when they participate in the dialogue of the songs. There are a total of 20 songs and they include “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie”, “Saturday Night Fish Fry”, “Barnyard Boogie”, “I Want You To Be My Baby”, “Caldonia”, “Run Joe”, “School Days”, “Buzz Me”, “Beans & Corn Bread” and “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Cryin”.
4. Volume 2 – Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five (1948)
3. Somebody Up There Digs Me – Louis Jordan (1962)
Somebody up there digs Louis Jordan – and we do too – thanks to the searing sound of these Mercury Records sides from the 50s! The approach here is a bit more rocking and R&B-influenced than Jordan’s initial material – and Louis goes back to some classics, reworks their groove, and shows everyone that although he’s one of the originators, he can still do it better than most! Sax lines and searing guitar parts really infuse the grooves with a lot of soul – and Jordan himself is impeccably charming and pretty darn groovy throughout! Titles include “Run Joe”, “Early In The Morning”, “Caldonia”, “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby”, “Beware Brother Beware”, “I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town”, and “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens”.
2. Go Blow Your Horn by Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five (1957)
- Rockin & Jivin 1956/1957 Vol 1 – Louis Jordan