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Louis Jordan

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.

Jordan began his career in big-band swing jazz in the 1930s, but he became known as one of the leading practitioners, innovators and popularizers of jump blues, a swinging, up-tempo, dance-oriented hybrid of jazz, blues and boogie-woogie. Typically performed by smaller bands consisting of five or six players, jump music featured shouted, highly syncopated vocals and earthy, comedic lyrics on contemporary urban themes. It strongly emphasized the rhythm section of piano, bass and drums; after the mid-1940s, this mix was often augmented by electric guitar. Jordan's band also pioneered the use of the electronic organ.

With his dynamic Tympany Five bands, Jordan mapped out the main parameters of the classic R&B, urban blues and early rock-and-roll genres with a series of highly influential 78-rpm discs released by Decca Records. These recordings presaged many of the styles of black popular music of the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and exerted a strong influence on many leading performers in these genres. Many of his records were produced by Milt Gabler, who went on to refine and develop the qualities of Jordan's recordings in his later production work with Bill Haley, including "Rock Around the Clock".

Jordan ranks fifth in the list of the most successful African-American recording artists according to Joel Whitburn's analysis of Billboard magazine's R&B chart. Though comprehensive sales figures are not available, he had at least four million-selling hits during his career. Jordan regularly topped the R&B "race" charts and was one of the first black recording artists to achieve significant crossover in popularity with the mainstream (predominantly white) American audience, having simultaneous Top Ten hits on the pop charts on several occasions.

Birth and Death Data: Born July 8th, 1908 (Arkansas), Died February 4th, 1975 (Los Angeles)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1936 - 1960

Roles Represented in DAHR: alto saxophone, vocalist, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet, songwriter, composer

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 273 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-045946 10-in. 1/17/1940 You ain't nowhere Don Redman Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo and vocal ensemble composer  
Victor BS-074648 10-in. 7/30/1942 I'm gonna leave you on the outskirts of town Jazz Gillum Male vocal solo, with instrumental quartet songwriter  
Victor D9VB-1181 10-in. 8/16/1949 Saturday night fish fry Gay Crosse ; Good Humor Six (Gay Crosse) Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band songwriter  
Decca 61361 10-in. 10/29/1936 (If you can't sing it) You'll have to swing it Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 61362 10-in. 10/29/1936 Swinging on the reservation Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 61363 10-in. 10/29/1936 I got the Spring fever blues Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 61364 10-in. 10/29/1936 Vote for Mr. Rhythm Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 61520 10-in. 1/14/1937 There's frost on the moon-1 Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca 61527 10-in. 1/14/1937 Take another guess Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 61528 10-in. 1/14/1937 Love marches on-1 Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca 61530 10-in. 1/15/1937 Gee, but you're swell Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca 62064 10-in. 3/24/1937 Rusty hinge Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca 62065 10-in. 3/24/1937 Wake up and live-2 Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca 62066 10-in. 3/24/1937 It's swell of you Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca 62067 10-in. 3/24/1937 You showed me the way Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 62068 10-in. 3/24/1937 Clap hands! Here comes Charley Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca 62069 10-in. 3/24/1937 Cryin' mood Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 62072 10-in. 3/24/1937 Love is the thing, so they say Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 62073 10-in. 3/24/1937 That naughty waltz-1 Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca 62213 10-in. 5/24/1937 All or nothing at all Ella Fitzgerald and her Savoy Eight instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 62214 10-in. 5/24/1937 If you ever should leave Ella Fitzgerald and her Savoy Eight instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 62215 10-in. 5/24/1937 Everyone's wrong but me Ella Fitzgerald and her Savoy Eight instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 62216 10-in. 5/24/1937 Deep in the heart of South Ella Fitzgerald and her Savoy Eight instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 62725 10-in. 10/27/1937 Just a simple melody Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 62726 10-in. 10/27/1937 I got a guy Chick Webb Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
(Results 1-25 of 273 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Jordan, Louis," accessed July 24, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109210.

Jordan, Louis. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved July 24, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109210.

"Jordan, Louis." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 24 July 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109210

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