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Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame
1994 Candidates

Louis Jordan (1908 - 1975)

Jordan was born July 8, 1908, in Brinkley, Arkansas. He learned saxophone from his father, who was band leader for the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. He was a good showman, song writer, and leader of an entertaining combo that was especially popular in the 1940's with both white and black audiences. He played excellent alto saxophone, clean-cut and swinging, and was a good vocalist on all types of numbers. Jordan attended Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock. He began his professional career in 1929 in Little Rock and in the early 30's traveled to Philadelphia where he worked with Charlie Gaines.

In 1935 Jordan traveled to New York City and had obtained his first big job for two years with Chick Webb by mid-1936. In August 1938 he formed The Tympany Five, a move that began novelty and blues recording. The combo played tight arrangements in a shuffle boogie rhythm showing on Jordan's dominance on vocals and saxophone. The hits included "Knock Me a Kiss," "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?," "G.I. Five," "Beware," "Choo Choo Ch' Boggie" (the biggest seller), "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town," and "Five Guys Named Moe" (the inspiration for the recent hit Broadway musical of the same name). Jordan's band was featured in the movies FOLLOW THE BOYS and MEET MISS BOBBY SOCKS (1944), THE SWING PARADE OF 1946, and the all Negro movie musical BEWARE. Jordan's career continued through out the 50's, 60's, and 70's.

Check out the Louis Jordan tribute web site by Stephen Koch.

[Find related books and albums at the Foundation Store]
[All-Music Guide entry for Louis Jordan]

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