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As a fellow Arkansan and fan of Louis Jordan, maybe the most underrated musician in modern history, I was very pleased to learn that Stephen Koch, as expert as anybody on the native music of Arkansas, has made it his mission to teach as many people as possible just how great Jordan was.
Koch has a weekly radio segment on local public radio entitled "Arkansongs" and covers everything from old a capella hillbilly folk music to blues, rock and country. Our humble state has been the birthplace of Jordan, from Brinkley, doowop singer Jesse Belvin, supposedly from Texarkana, Glenn Campbell from Delight, and some guy named Johnny Cash, from Dyess. Add to that list Levon Helms of Springdale and Otis Rush of Osceola. No slouches, we. And the King Biscuit Flower Hour came from Helena.
Unfortunately and maddeningly, the city of Springdale for example has no signs or hint that Helm ever lived there. Brinkley isn't much better. Aside from a bust made and displayed in the old Union Pacific railroad depot where Jordan once handled bags as a youngster, almost nobody there can tell you who he was.
So, I'll tell you, but I recommend you get this book and get a good Jordan collection. He is the father of R & B, a pioneer of rock and roll, and if you don't believe that listen to "Ain't That Just Like A Woman", and blended 40's pop with jazz chops creating an amazing body of work that sold in the millions during his heyday. Maybe you don't recognize his name, but you've heard "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby", "Nobody Here But Us Chickens" and "Let The Good Times Roll" unless you've been in a deep dark cave.
Jordan and his rotating line-up called the Tympani Five, although there were usually more than five band members had enormous hits and he shattered sales records all through the forties, with the above mentioned tunes and the hilarious "Caldonia Boogie" and "Open The Door Richard". His spoken word lyrics were a hoot, and his alto saxophone playing was stellar, always in great jazz taste but with a good beat that helped formulate the tempos that would define rock and roll in a few short years.
For those who love delving into the musical history that became rock and roll, jazz and modern blues, you can't afford not to give him a listen. Koch pulls no punches in his admiration for the man, writes the book lovingly and respectfully, and has done wonders to try to renew interest and respect in an American giant, easily as important as Louis Armstrong, Charlie Christian, Miles Davis and others who were on the same road of wonderful original American music. It's hip to be into blues legends like Robert Johnson - now it's time to dig the beat of Jordan. His lingo and catch phrases were the inspiration for latter day cool like Steely Dan, right down to the "get back, Jack", "hep cats" and just plain cool. Get the book. Get a good compilation, too.