Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five, live at Zardi’s Jazzland on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood and recorded for posterity by the venerable NBC Radio on July 15, 1956 for the All-Star Parade of Bands weekly series of broadcasts.
Jordan originally began his career during the Big-Band era. First playing with Clarence Williams orchestra, he then played with Chick Webb‘s orchestra until 1938 when he left to form, what would become the genesis for his Tympany Five. From the late 1930s to the early 1950s, Louis Jordan was dubbed King Of The Jukebox and was probably one of the biggest influences in breaking the color barrier in Pop Music. Many of his hits were viewed as direct precursors to Rock n’ Roll, including one of his biggest hits, Saturday Night Fish-Fry which contained what many believed to be the first reference to Rock n’ Roll with the chorus lyric “they was Rockin'”. The success of Jump-Blues inspired a number of bands to follow suit, including the legendary Joe Liggins, Roy Milton, Lucky Millinder and several others. Many felt the crossover popularity of these new bands, coupled with the decline of the Big-Band lineup, made this evolution, not only in popular music, but the breakthrough in segregated music, a critical step in American Post-war pop-culture.
With the eventual evolution into Rock n’ Roll, the fortunes of Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five began to dwindle. With Bill Haley now riding high on the crest of a wave Jordan started, his old label Decca decided to part company, leaving Jordan going from Aladddin to X to Vik to Mercury throughout the later 1950s.
This broadcast comes during that decline, but certainly not in the talent and artistry of one of the most important figures in popular music. The Louis Jordan in 1956 still had the chops and the snap – but it was that younger crop of artists who were taking advantage of the situation and turning Rock n’ Roll and Rhythm & Blues into the powerhouses they became.
As a reminder that Rock got its start someplace – and that it was an evolution, here is the inimitable Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five, recorded live at the legendary Zardi’s Jazzland in 1956.