[Dixielandjazz] Louis Jordan

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Jan 29 18:15:13 PST 2007

Louis Jordan was, like Louis Prima, a jazz musician who left trad jazz
and/or swing for R&B and the world of entertainment. His first million
seller was "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" about 1944, or 45. Second one
right after WW 2 was "Caldonia, What Makes Your Big Head So Hard?. Then came
his biggest seller, "Choo Choo Ch Boogie". My favorite is: "I'm Gonna Move
To The Outskirts of Town." IMO this blues is a classic. More below.

snip - - -

"In the Forties, bandleader Louis Jordan pioneered a wild - and wildly
popular - amalgam of jazz and blues with salty, jive-talking humor. The
music played by singer/saxophonist Jordan and his Tympany Five got called
"jump blues" or "jumpin' jive," and it served as a precursor to the rhythm &
blues and rock and roll of the Fifties. Jordan was born into a musical
family - his father was the leader of the Arkansas-based Rabbit Foot
Minstrels - and he majored in music at Arkansas Baptist College. After
serving stints as an alto saxophonist with jazz bands led by Clarence
Williams, Chick Webb and others, Jordan broke off in 1938 to form his own
band, whose specialty was small-combo jump blues delivered with madcap wit
to a danceable beat."

"Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five launched 54 singles into the R&B charts
in the Forties, including 18 songs that went to #1. During the period
1943-1950, Jordan held down the top slot for a total of 113 weeks - more
than 25% of the time! For good reason he was dubbed "King of the Juke
Boxes." Jordan's best-loved songs include "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" (#1, 18
weeks), "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" (#1, 17 weeks) and "Saturday
Night Fish Fry" (#1, 12 weeks). His songs' appeal stemmed from their lively
evocation of good times and the swinging sounds of Jordan's band, from hot
jazz to shuffling boogie blues. Jordan not only supplied a good deal of the
slang of early rock and roll but also directly influenced the freewheeling
spirit of its progenitors, including Bill Haley and Chuck Berry. The latter
paid tribute to Jordan with this simple declaration: 'I identify myself with
Louis Jordan more than any other artist.'"

end snip - - -

All of us kids, musicians and hipsters back in the late 40s, early 50s loved
this music, the way it was presented and the sexy dancing that went with it.
At the end of WW 2, how could one not like it? Wine, women & song were back
again after some hard times in the depression, and then the World War.

Prima and Jordan were no fools. They swung like crazy and produced some
really great dance music and entertained their audiences. No wonder the kids
left Dixieland for R & B and then R & R.

Steve Barbone

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