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  • Louis Jordan Style???

    Any jazz heads on here? I have a history question!! (Mods - not sure if this is the right sub-forum but it seems to be the most active one... So please feel free to move this or let me know where I should repost it.)


    I recently read Louis Jordan's biography, Son of Arkansas, Father of R&B. I've been listening to pop and rap so long, I needed something different. Quincy Jones and Ray Charles gave LJ major props so I bought the book. During breaks from reading, I listened to the songs that were mentioned and actually found a good bit that I liked immediately. I tried to replay them on the piano and guitar (when possible) and was very pleased to see that his chord progressions were pretty straightforward but didn't sound like it at first.


    Maybe someone who plays jazz and knows more about jazz history can shed some light on this – according to the book, when his career started to decline, jazz and rock 'n roll started becoming more popular. Louis's big band style didn't fit into either genre. What confuses me is that he was considered 'too pop for jazz.' I don't understand this attitude AT ALL. Yes, he wrote songs about fish fries and military lingo, but it was agreed that he was a legitimately skilled musician.


    This actually threw me off so much that I looked up some other articles about this, and it appears that this snobbish attitude was common among jazz musicians at that time. Did other musicians look down on the style (not so much Jordan himself) because it was focused on showmanship and entertainment, instead of solos, etc.??? If so, how does that make sense, considering Duke Ellington also did that style of music and no one says anything about him?


    I'd love to hear from some jazz heads, as I'm a lyricist and topline writer for pop music, so I don't listen to songs 'with a musician's ear.' And when I listen to Louis Jordan's music, I don't see why anyone would look down on it.


    Jay

  • #2
    I'm not a vintage guy nor much of of a jazzer. I can see how the boppers, swingsters and, the "lissnin crowd" would go purist on this guy. It's all boogie woogie. Up tempo swingy smiley boogie woogie.
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    • #3
      Modern incarnation:

      Nobody ever compared this guy to Basie or Ellington either.

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      • #4
        I'm a huge Louis Jordan fan, and I think there were a few things he did that were noticeably different, including his small format combos and predilection to tongue-in-cheek story telling and oddball characterizations. When jazz became 'serious', as the bebop era began, such 'frivolity' didn't play well with the mainstream who were looking to have jazz looked on as art, not pop music.
        References to his songs are found in several Warner Brothers cartoons up until post war, and his band was even featured in several 'race' movies in the 30s and 40s.
        If you like LJ, may I also point you at Slim Gaillard, another period musician, and another favorite of mine, who infused a sense of humor and playfulness into a number of hits, most notably "Flat Foot Floogie" [with the Floy-Floy], who endeavored to make 'vout' a comprehensible [if enigmatic] language....Slim, a multi-instrumentalist, fared better with the public than Jordan in the post-war era, and was more accepted by the jazz community.
        And of course, one can't overlook Cab Calloway, who also had a string of pre-war hits and spiced his music with humor [and drug references] as well. He was very 'in' with the Fleischer Brothers [Betty Boop, Koko the Clown], and appeared [in cartoon form] in several of there animations.
        "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

        Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
        "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

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        • #5
          Originally posted by daddymack View Post
          When jazz became 'serious', as the bebop era began, such 'frivolity' didn't play well with the mainstream who were looking to have jazz looked on as art, not pop music.
          Sad. When you look at the behavior of the people themselves, that musical 'frivolity' discussion becomes null and void.



          Originally posted by daddymack View Post
          If you like LJ, may I also point you at Slim Gaillard...
          Since you posted this, I looked him up.

          "Dunkin Bagel" immediately reminded me of Louis Jordan's "Beans and Cornbread" and "Saturday Night Fish Fry." I'm assuming that writing songs about food was a 'thing' at that time!

          Also, it was cool to find out that he grew up in Cuba and Greece, and didn't speak English until he was a teenager. I always get surprised when I read about people in music.



          Originally posted by daddymack View Post
          And of course, one can't overlook Cab Calloway, who also had a string of pre-war hits and spiced his music with humor [and drug references] as well.
          I will look him up as well.

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          • #6
            Food and nonsense...check out the Nat Cole Trio's oddball stuff like "Frim Fram Sauce" and "Straighten Up and Fly Right". Never take yourself or you music too seriously...
            "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

            Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
            "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

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            • #7
              I love the Diana Krall Frim Fram thing. Food songs is all uppayouendo right? And I think maybe LJ like chicken to much?
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              • #8
                Originally posted by 1001gear View Post
                ...And I think maybe LJ like chicken to much?
                I think he liked MARRIAGE too much, lol.

                I was laughing while reading that he got married to one lady, who found out he was still married to another one. Then later, he did same exact thing with a different woman.

                Even worse, he put a lot of his songs in his wife's name because of a contract dispute. Then when she became his EX-wife, he could never get the songs back, so even today, she's the credited writer.

                The man just couldn't help himself!

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                • daddymack
                  daddymack commented
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                  The cost of thinking with the small head first...

              • #9
                He did say so lol.
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