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Louis Jordan: Let the Good Times Roll: The Anthology 1938-1953

Alto saxophonist Louis (Louie) Jordan believed in entertaining people and making them forget the cares of the day. As John Chilton aptly put it in Let the Good Times Roll, his excellent 1992 biography of the hard working band leader, “[His] controlled passion and his ability to balance the emotional content of his instrumental and vocal work intrigued and attracted every sort of listener.” Indeed, it was his winning combination of sophisticated, uptown playing and downhome lyrics-epitomized in such songs as “Ain’t Nobody Here but Us Chickens,” “Beans and Cornbread,” and “Saturday Night Fish Fry”-that struck a chord in audiences on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. The considerable appeal that Jordan and his band held for America’s listening and dancing public is present on just about every one of this double CD’s 46 tracks, which he recorded for Decca between December 1938, six months after leaving Chick Webb’s band, and May 1953. (He continued to record for different labels until 15 months before his death in 1975 of a heart attack at 66.)

Two previous MCA CD compilations contain many of these same hits (e.g., “Caldonia,” “What’s the Use of Gettin’ Sober,” “G.I. Jive”), but not such rarities as 1939’s “Doug the Jitterbug,” a bouncy item that briefly features the tuneable kettledrums that gave Jordan’s combo its catchy name, or 1941’s seriously swinging “Saxa-Woogie,” in which all the elements of Jordan’s music come together: the tightly arranged ensemble work that typified the John Kirby Sextet (one of Jordan’s inspirations) and-most importantly-a shuffle rhythm set over a boogie woogie beat. Blues formed a big part of his repertory, along with the occasional calypso (Ella joins him here for “Stone Cold Dead in the Market”) and a raft of novelty songs. Throughout it all, Jordan played and sang with gusto, and his well-rehearsed band accompanied him effortlessly. Among this set’s many attractions is the inclusion of both “I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town” and Jordan’s own follow-up, “I’m Gonna Leave You on the Outskirts of Town.” Highly recommended!

Originally Published