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Louis Jordan

Louis Thomas Jordan (July 8, 1908 – February 4, 1975) was an American saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and bandleader who was popular from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Known as "the King of the Jukebox", he earned his highest profile towards the end of the swing era. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an "early influence" in 1987.

Specializing in the alto sax, Jordan played all forms of the saxophone, as well as piano and clarinet. He also was a talented singer with great comedic flair, and 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 14 three-minute Soundies filmed for "movie jukeboxes" of the 1940s. He also worked as a specialty act in the Hollywood theatrical features Follow the Boys and Swing Parade of 1946. His very successful musical short Caldonia (1945) prompted three more feature films, all starring Jordan and his band: Beware; Reet, Petite and Gone; and Look Out Sister.

Jordan began his career in big-band swing jazz in the 1930s, but he became known as an innovative popularizer 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, and was the most popular rhythm and blues artist with his "jump blues" recordings of the pre-rock n' roll era. 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, achieving the Number 1 slot eighteen times, with 113 weeks in that spot over the years. He was also one of the first black recording artists to achieve significant crossover in popularity with the predominantly white mainstream 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 201-225 of 274 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca 81914 11/28/1951 There goes my heart Louis Jordan Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone  
Decca 81915 11/28/1951 Lay something on the bar (Besides your elbows)-1 Louis Jordan Orchestra instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist  
Decca 82793 4/30/1952 Gimme gimme blues Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 82794 4/30/1952 Junco partner Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 82795 4/30/1952 Time marches on Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 82796 4/30/1952 Azure-Te Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 82797 4/30/1952 Oil well Texas Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 82798 4/30/1952 There's nothing else that I can do Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 82834 5/8/1952 Jordan for president Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 82835 5/8/1952 The soon-a baby Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 83681 12/3/1952 There's nothing else that I can do Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 83682 12/3/1952 The soon-a baby Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 83683 12/3/1952 You didn't want me baby Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 83684 12/3/1952 A man's best friend is a bed Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 84627 5/28/1953 Hog wash (Hot wash) Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 84628 5/28/1953 House party Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 84629 5/28/1953 Everything that's made of wood Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 84630 5/28/1953 I want you to be my baby Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 84631 5/28/1953 You know it too Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 85657 1/4/1954 Locked-up Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 85658 1/4/1954 I gotta move Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 85659 1/4/1954 Nobody knows you when you're down and out Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 85660 1/4/1954 If it's true Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 85661 1/4/1954 Wake up, Jacob Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
Decca 85662 1/4/1954 Lollypop Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five instrumentalist, alto saxophone, vocalist, leader  
(Results 201-225 of 274 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Jordan, Louis," accessed June 13, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109210.

Jordan, Louis. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved June 13, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/109210.

"Jordan, Louis." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 13 June 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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