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Louis Jordan: 'The Best of Louis Jordan'


MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: I'm Murray Horwitz and that music not only just makes you feel good, it's a reminder of a time when jazz was part of the dominant popular culture - and I do mean "popular." It's from The Best of Louis Jordan and it is our latest entry into the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library.


HORWITZ: Nowadays, we make all these distinctions among swing and bebop and hard bop and funk and hip-hop. But between 1942 and 1951, when Louis Jordan's music dominated the black music charts, you'd find him on the same jukeboxes as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Nat King Cole. It's great jump jazz, played with integrity and style, and sung with wit and swing. And, it's just flat-out fun to listen to.


HORWITZ: That's one of his biggest hits, "Caldonia." But most of the titles are more colorful than that — "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens," "What's the Use of Getting Sober (When You're Gonna Get Drunk Again)?" and other tunes used in the hit Broadway show, celebrating Louis Jordan, Five Guys Named Moe. One of them, I've always thought of as the story of my own life: "Blue Light Boogie."


HORWITZ: You could say that we're putting Louis Jordan into the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library because he was among the first black entertainers to be successful in a wider pop market. You could say it's because he and his Tympany Five influenced bands like Bill Haley and the Comets. And, his music is often cited as one of the roots of rock and roll. You can say we're doing it because Louis Jordan is an underrated jazz musician, who was a fine clarinetist and alto saxophonist. But, you know what? We're doing it because this music is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.


HORWITZ: And, that is the reason we include The Best of Louis Jordan on MCA Records in the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library. For NPR Jazz, I'm Murray Horwitz.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Murray Horwitz

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