Tomorrow is the anniversary of the birth of Louis Jordan (b. July 8, 1908). Jordan is the link from the birth of jazz and the big band swing era to rock ‘n’ roll, from Louis Armstrong (with whom he recorded some terrific duets) to Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Having touched everyone from Ray Charles to Prince, Jordan deserves a hearing in his own right. Between 1942 and 1951 he recorded an astounding 57 rhythm and blues chart hits on Decca. Bill Dahl’s Allmusic profile of Jordan summarizes his career nicely.
Bing Crosby takes a couple of elegant turns with Jordan (on “My Baby Said Yes” and “Your Socks Don’t Match”) on the wonderful, inexpensive five-disc Louis Jordan and his Tympani Five compilation that came out on JSP Records in 2001. Suffice it to say that Crosby never sounded cooler — although he sounded as cool on many occasions.
You may have heard at least a few of Jordan’s hit songs — “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens,” “Caldonia,” “Let the Good Times Roll.” Perhaps most striking is the joyousness of Jordan’s music. For a taste of the good stuff, check out the thoughtfully compiled selections on the page devoted to Jordan by Chicago’s WBEZ public radio. Jordan died in 1975; the music survives.
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