12:30pm

Sat July 21, 2012
Marc On The Blues

Nine O'clock Blues & The King Of The Jukebox

A lot of people have recorded the songs of the so-called “King of the Jukebox” Louis Jordan and with good reason. His songs are so darned much fun to play and listen to.

People as diverse as B. B. King and Joe Jackson have recorded full tribute albums to Jordan. I could rattle off a list of his best known pieces, but I wouldn’t know where to quit.

But I will repeat that a lot people have recorded songs Jordan made famous, many of which he wrote. Even Flip Wilson got in on the act when he performed “Ain’t Nobody Here but Us Chickens”. Many artists start their performances with “Let the Good Times Roll”. Personally, I think “The King of the Jukebox” should also be known as “The King of the Party”.

Louis Jordan was born in Brinkley, Arkansas in 1908 and passed away in 1975. He enjoyed his greatest popularity from the 1930s through the 1950s. At times he fronted a big band and at other times a small combo with his Tympany Five being among his most successful groups and the one that did the most to map out the Rhythm and Blues idioms that dominate the genre to this day.

“The King of the Jukebox” got his first big break in the mid-1930s when he joined the Chick Webb Band, best known as the house band at the Savoy Ballroom in New York, at the same time Ella Fitzgerald was getting her start with the band. Jordan also performed with Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and many others.

Along with his music career, Louis, who was known for a great sense of humor, was an actor and a major black film personality. He found a great deal of success in ‘soundies”, films that played in “Soundies” machines, which were the film equivalent of jukeboxes. The films were also sometimes used as ‘short subjects’ at the movies. “King of the Soundies” too?

After Duke Ellington and Count Basie, King of the Jukebox Louis Jordan, with his many Top Ten crossover hits on the white pop charts, rates as the top band leader of his era. He also stands as a major linchpin between Blues and Jazz and is a true pioneer of Rhythm and Blues.

This week on The Nine O’clock Blues we’ll “Let the Good Times Roll” and have a “Saturday Night Fish Fry” as I indulge myself by browsing through several of the genre that Louis Jordan dominated over a period of about thirty years.

An artist missing from the Chicago Blues scene for nearly a decade is Rockin’ Johnny, but now he’s back with a new CD called “Grim Reaper”. Rockin’ Johnny Band is a quintessential Chicago club band and that comes as no surprise since they record on the Delmark Records label and that’s what Delmark does.

This week on The Nine O’clock Blues we’ll check out the title track from “Grim Reaper” which is a deep, dark blues that features an ominous tone, a tolling bell of a guitar and a backwards guitar solo that harkens back to the late 1960s psychedelic music era.

Also on the show we’ll listen to a 1980 track from Ry Cooder, a man who has played in about every genre there is, and the ladies are represented by South Side Cindy, who I only just discovered in my in-box and The Informants, who I discovered a couple of years ago when they played The Greeley Blues Jam.

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