Is you is or Is you ain't(My Baby)
July 8, 1908 - February 4, 1975
Louis Jordan was the dean of jump blues in the late 1940s and one of the most popular rhythm & blues artists of the post-World War II period. Taking a cue from jazz bandleader Cab Calloway, Jordan was as much a showman as he was a saxophone player, bandleader, and songwriter. He was blessed with a warm sense of humor and the ability to reach beyond traditionally imposed racial barriers in pop music. Throughout his career, Jordan routinely crossed over into the white record-buying market. He sold millions of records, wrote numerous classic R&B tunes, and appeared in movies.
Jordan was born in Arkansas and learned the rudiments of the saxophone from his father, who was the bandleader for the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Jordan attended Baptist College in Arkansas and majored in music. After a brief fling with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, Jordan went north to Philadelphia and played in a variety of bands until he joined drummer Chick Webb's band in 1936. Jordan stayed with Webb until the bandleader's death in 1938. He then formed his own band, the Tympany Five (though the group almost always had more than five members), and signed a recording contract with Decca Records that lasted into the 1950s.
Jordan recorded a number of successful tunes, including "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town" and "Five Guys Named Moe," before hitting big with "Caldonia", which was covered by Woody Herman in 1945. Other smashes followed: "Choo Choo Ch' Boogie," "Saturday Night Fish Fry," "Let the Good Times Roll," and "Is You Is, or Is You Ain't (Ma Baby)?" Jordan also criss-crossed the country playing countless one-nighters. Appearances in the films Meet Miss Bobby Socks and Swing Parade of 1946 exposed Jordan's entertaining talents to even wider audiences. By the late 1940s Jordan's brand of jump blues had convincingly made its mark in pop music and Jordan was a major star.
In 1951 Jordan formed a big band, but dissolved it a year later. He ended his association with Decca in 1953 and signed on with Aladdin, hoping to revive his now-sagging career. But clearly Jordan's best days as a recording artist were behind him. Rock & roll was about to become the rage, and rhythm & blues was beginning its slow but steady slide. Still, Jordan continued to perform and record. Stints with Mercury in the late '50s and Ray Charles's Tangerine label in the early '60s kept him and his band working, but produced marginal recordings. Jordan kept performing in the late '60s, mostly as an oldies act. Still other records were cut for the French company Black and Blue, and for JSP in the early '70s. By 1973, Jordan had cut back on his performances and semi-retired. He died of a heart attack in 1975. Jordan was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
"Caldonia" is from The Best Of Louis Jordan Copyright © MCA Records Inc., 1975. Louis originally cut this on January 19, 1945.
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