The Later Years 1953-1957
The 56 cuts collected on this JSP set contain all but a few of Louis Jordan's singles and albums recorded for Decca, Aladdin, RCA's "X" imprint, and Mercury between 1953 and 1957 (the missing sides were recorded in 1958). Many of these cuts were recorded as singles, ultimately singles that found little success due to the changing nature of the swinging jump blues and jazz jive -- pioneered by Jordan in the 1940s -- which were shifting toward R&B and early rock & roll. While Jordan was still a large concert draw, his fortunes as a recording artist began to dry up, despite the fact that the quality of the music here is stellar. The electric guitar plays a much more prominent role on these sides, particularly in those from 1956 and 1957 -- a redo of "Caldonia" on disc two could have been cut by Chuck Berry with horns (which is only fitting since Berry claims Jordan as his greatest influence). The remakes comprising most of disc two are actually stomping versions of Jordan classics -- such as "Let the Good Times Roll," "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby," and "Salt Pork, West Virginia" -- that wear the new tempos and more pronounced, edgier beat very well. His singing is more shouting at this point, but that suits the music fine. His band? In 1956 it included trumpeter Ernie Royal, trombonist Jimmy Cleveland, Charlie Persip, and guitarist Mickey Baker! The Jordan orchestras throughout the '50s featured top-notch, burning players accustomed to playing anything and everything. The early-'50s sides were a little less aggressive, but they are no less magical. They contain the same joyous roughhouse humor and hip finger-popping swing of the '40s material, played a bit faster is all. This double-disc set includes a decent if not remarkable set of liner notes by Neil Slaven, and the sound quality is solid throughout. Add to this a very attractive price point and this is a good bet for fans as well as collectors who may have previously underestimated this material.