Louis Jordan

Picture of Louis Jordan

Louis Jordan was a bandleader who was very popular from the late 1930's to the early 1950's. He was known as "The King of the Jukebox" and his highest success came towards the end of the swing era.

Jordan was a talented singer with great comedic flair, some of his songs are simply hilarious but always catchy and memorable. He fronted his own band for more than twenty years and he performed duets with some of the biggest solo singing stars of his time, including Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong to name just a few. 

Louis played all forms of the saxophone but specialized in the alto. He also played the piano and clarinet. Jordan was a successful songwriter, he wrote or co-wrote many songs that are considered classics of 20th-century popular music and staples of the Big Band Era.

Audio Recording of "G.I. Jive" performed by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five


Jordan began his career in big-band swing jazz in the 1930's, but he became known as one of the leading innovators of jump blues, a swinging, up-tempo, dance-oriented hybrid of jazz, blues and boogie-woogie. As his style developed into the 1940's, it strongly focused on the rhythm section of piano, bass and drums, and after the mid-1940's, this focused mix included the electric guitar. Jordan's band also pioneered the use of the electronic organ.  He was quite the musical innovator!

With his Tympany Five bands, Louis Jordan mapped out the main parameters of the classic R/B, Urban Blues and early Rock-and-Roll genres with a series of highly influential 78-rpm discs.  When you listen to some of Louis music from the 40's, you can almost hear Rock and Roll music banging on the door wanting to come in.

Jordan ranks as one of the most successful African-American recording artists in musical history. Louis Jordan regularly topped the R/B charts and was one of the first black recording artists to achieve significant crossover in popularity with the mainstream American audience, having simultaneous Top Ten hits on the pop charts on many different occasions.

You can hear many of Louis Jordan's hits right here on Swing City Radio including: "G.I. Jive", "Saturday Night Fish Fry", "Five Guys Named Moe" and "Is You Is or Is You A'int My Baby".

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