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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 51-75 of 274 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca 63709 10-in. 5/3/1938 Saving myself for you Ella Fitzgerald and her Savoy Eight instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 63710 10-in. 5/3/1938 If you only knew Ella Fitzgerald and her Savoy Eight instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 64823 10-in. 12/20/1938 Toodle-loo on down Rodney Sturgis instrumentalist, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone  
Decca 64824 10-in. 12/20/1938 So good Rodney Sturgis instrumentalist, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone  
Decca 64825 10-in. 12/20/1938 Away from you Rodney Sturgis instrumentalist, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone  
Decca 64826 10-in. 12/20/1938 Honey in the bee ball Louis Jordan's Elks Rendezvous Band instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, clarinet, baritone saxophone  
Decca 64827 10-in. 12/20/1938 Barnacle Bill the sailor Louis Jordan's Elks Rendezvous Band instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, clarinet, baritone saxophone  
Decca 65304 10-in. 3/29/1939 Flat face (Instrumental) Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, clarinet, baritone saxophone, leader  
Decca 65305 10-in. 3/29/1939 Keep a-knockin' (but you can't come in) Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, clarinet, baritone saxophone, leader  
Decca 65306 10-in. 3/29/1939 Sam Jones done snagged his britches on Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, clarinet, baritone saxophone, leader  
Decca 65307 10-in. 3/29/1939 Swingin' in a cocoanut tree (Instrumental) Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, clarinet, baritone saxophone, leader  
Decca 65308 10-in. 3/29/1939 Doug the jitterbug Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, clarinet, baritone saxophone, leader  
Decca 65309 10-in. 3/29/1939 At the swing cats' ball Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, clarinet, baritone saxophone, leader  
Decca 66871 10-in. 11/14/1939 Jake, what a snake (Instrumental) Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, baritone saxophone, clarinet, leader  
Decca 66872 10-in. 11/14/1939 Honeysuckle rose Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, baritone saxophone, clarinet, leader  
Decca 66873 10-in. 11/14/1939 'Fore day blues-2 Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, baritone saxophone, clarinet, leader  
Decca 66874 10-in. 11/14/1939 But I'll be back Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, baritone saxophone, clarinet, leader  
Decca 66875 10-in. 11/14/1939 You ain't nowhere Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, baritone saxophone, clarinet, leader  
Decca 66876 10-in. 11/14/1939 You're my meat-1 Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, baritone saxophone, clarinet, leader  
Decca 67111 10-in. 1/25/1940 June Tenth jamboree Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, clarinet, baritone saxophone, leader  
Decca 67112 10-in. 1/25/1940 You run your mouth and I'll run my business Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, clarinet, baritone saxophone, leader  
Decca 67113 10-in. 1/25/1940 I'm Alabama bound Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, clarinet, baritone saxophone, leader  
Decca 67114 10-in. 1/25/1940 Hard lovin' blues Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, clarinet, baritone saxophone, leader  
Decca 67308 10-in. 3/13/1940 You've got to go when the wagon comes Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, clarinet, baritone saxophone, leader  
Decca 67309 10-in. 3/13/1940 Lovie Joe Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, clarinet, baritone saxophone, leader  
(Results 51-75 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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