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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 8, 1908 (Arkansas), Died February 4, 1975 (Los Angeles)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1936 - 1960

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

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 251-274 of 274 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca L 4574 11/24/1947 Chicky-Mo, Craney-crow Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca L 4575 11/24/1947 Roamin's blues Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca L 4594 12/1/1947 Inflation blues Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca L 4595 12/1/1947 You're much too fat Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca L 4596 12/1/1947 Chug chug boogie Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca L 4597 12/1/1947 There'll be no days like that Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca L 4598 12/1/1947 Pettin' and pokin' Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca L 4631 12/8/1947 You're on the right track baby Louis Jordan instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca L 4632 12/8/1947 Don't burn the candle at both ends Louis Jordan instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca L 4633 12/8/1947 Why'd you do it, baby Louis Jordan ; Louis Jordan instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca L 4634 12/8/1947 Daddy-o Louis Jordan instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca L 4887 2/7/1949 Safe, sane and single Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca L 4888 2/7/1949 I know what you've got Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca L 4889 2/7/1949 You broke your promise Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca L 7059 2/23/1953 I didn't know what time it was Louis Jordan instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca L 7060 2/23/1953 It's better to wait for love Louis Jordan instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca L 7061 2/23/1953 Only yesterday Louis Jordan instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca L 7062 2/23/1953 Just like a butterfly (that's caught in the rain) Louis Jordan instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca N 1797 10-in. 3/1/1944 I like 'em fat like that Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca N 1920 10-in. 3/15/1944 G.I. jive Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca N 3046 10-in. 1/19/1945 Somebody done changed the lock on the door Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca N 3427 10-in. 7/16/1945 It's full or it ain't no good Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca N 3428 10-in. 7/16/1945 How long must I wait for you? Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca N 3449 10-in. 7/19/1945 Paper boy Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
(Results 251-274 of 274 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Jordan, Louis," accessed January 30, 2023, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109210.

Jordan, Louis. (2023). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109210.

"Jordan, Louis." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2023. Web. 30 January 2023.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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