The Best of Louis Jordan

Louis Jordan

The Best of Louis Jordan

It’s not hard to understand why Louis Jordan was idolized by every architect of rock’n’roll and soul music from Chuck Berry and Little Richard to James Brown and Ray Charles. A singer, songwriter, bandleader, and musician, Jordan fused several styles of music (big band jazz, R&B, blues, calypso) into perfectly compact singles that delighted in their own raucous sense of fun. His releases were wildly popular, and he was among the first black musicians to achieve widespread appeal with both black and white audiences. In short, Louis Jordan embodied everything that would come to define rock’n’roll and soul before such genres even existed. Although the musical brilliance of Jordan and his band, the Tympani Five, is often disguised by Jordan’s perfectly goofy lyrics, much of what made these songs so popular 60 years ago is still evident today. The laid back shuffle of “Let the Good Times Roll;” the foot-stamping and shrieks of “Caldonia;” the joyful abandon and party-starting of “Saturday Night Fish Fry” and “Beans and Cornbread;” the carved-in-stone song design of ballads like “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Cryin’” and “Nobody Knows You When You Are Down and Out.” Music has changed a lot since Jordan’s astounding run of success from 1942-1950, but look past the trends and production styles of the charts on any given week, and you’ll still find traces of Jordan’s blueprint.

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