Kidd Jordan

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Kidd Jordan
Kidd Jordan.jpg
Kidd Jordan at Luscher School
Background information
Birth nameEdward Jordan
Born (1935-05-05) May 5, 1935 (age 87)
Crowley, Louisiana, USA
OriginNew Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Occupation(s)Saxophonist, music educator
Years active1950s–present
Kidd Jordan, Vision XIII Festival

Edward "Kidd" Jordan (born May 5, 1935)[1] is an American jazz saxophonist and music educator from New Orleans, Louisiana.

After completing a music degree at Southern University in Baton Rouge, he relocated to New Orleans. He taught at Southern University at New Orleans from 1974 to 2006.


Jordan was born in Crowley, Louisiana, and was raised during the time when rice farming was the predominant economic activity in the area.[2] Jordan has noted that the music in southwestern Louisiana was "strictly Zydeco and Blues from way around, and that's what I came up listening to."[2] Zydeco musician Clifton Chenier hailed from the same area, as did tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet (whose music teacher also instructed Jordan).[2][3]

Jordan's first instruments were C-melody and alto saxophones.[2] While in high school, Jordan began performing "stock arrangements for three or four saxophones" with some older musicians, and immersed himself in the music of Charlie Parker.[2] Jordan read transcribed solos in Down Beat magazine but also learned Parker's music by ear.[2] He credits Illinois Jacquet with first giving him the idea of playing free improvisation, but was more profoundly affected by the free jazz of Ornette Coleman (who had previously performed in the area with blues bands).[2]

Jordan majored in music education at Southern University, attending the school at the same time as Alvin Batiste (his brother-in-law).[2] He originally planned to become a classical alto saxophonist.[3] He moved to New Orleans in 1955, and began playing frequent R&B gigs with musicians such as Guitar Slim, Ray Charles, Big Maybelle, Big Joe Turner, Chuck Willis (with George Adams on baritone) and Choker Campbell.[2] Jordan has described these gigs as being "satisfying for me, because there was a feeling that you'd get from dealing with that. I've played with some of the great female vocalists, from Gladys Knight to Aretha Franklin, or Big Maybelle, Little Esther, Lena Horne, and there's an aesthetic in dealing with those people that a whole lot of people don't get to. And the aesthetic from the Blues is a part of the thing that I want to have in my playing. I don't care how out it gets."[2]

Jordan performs on tenor, baritone, soprano, alto, C-melody and sopranino saxophones, as well as contrabass and bass clarinets. He has indicated a preference for playing "outside" music (for example, free improvisation) on tenor, because he closely associates the alto with his earlier study of classical repertoire, tone, and technique.[3] Jordan has performed and recorded with a wide selection of musicians in styles ranging from R&B to avant-garde jazz, including Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, R.E.M., William Parker, Alvin Fielder, Archie Shepp, Fred Anderson, Ornette Coleman, Ellis Marsalis, Cannonball Adderley, Ed Blackwell, and Cecil Taylor.[2][3] In 2008, he was awarded a lifetime recognition honor by the Vision Festival.[4]

In his performances and recordings, his music is entirely improvised: "Everything you hear on my albums is improvised." he explains. "It's collective improvisation, but there are no tunes. I tried writing down ideas a long time ago but I don't do that anymore.".[5]

The French Ministry of Culture recognized Jordan as a Knight (Chevalier) of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1985. The French government bestowed him with their highest artistic award for his impetus as a visionary educator and performer.

Jordan taught Donald Harrison and Branford Marsalis while the two were teenagers, and was an instructor at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA).[2] As an instructor of jazz studies at Southern University at New Orleans, Jordan encouraged his students to pursue new approaches to traditional musical forms. One of Jordan's students was trombonist Charles Joseph, who would go on to co-found the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Jordan composed "Kidd Jordan's Second Line" for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band prior to their first European appearance in 1982, and has also performed with the band.

In 2006, Jordan lost his home and most of his possessions during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.[3] A few weeks after the hurricane, he recorded the album Palm of Soul in Brooklyn with William Parker and Hamid Drake.[6] Jordan later returned to Orleans.[3]

In 2007,[7] Kidd Jordan went west with Alvin Fielder and William Parker (musician) to play with Prince Lasha and John Handy in The Eddie Gale All Star band for the San Jose Jazz Festival

On November 7, 2010, Kidd Jordan was Inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame in an event at Montrele's Bistro in New Orleans.

In 2011, the television series Treme featured a track from Palm of Soul, "Last of the Chicken Wings."[3][8] Jordan later made a brief appearance in Treme.[3]

Jordan's son Kent Jordan (de) is a jazz flautist.


As leader[edit]

  • New Orleans Festival Suite (Silkheart, 1999)
  • Kidd' Stuff (Danjor)
  • Live at the Tampere Jazz Happening 2000 (Charles Lester, 2004)
  • Palm of Soul (AUM Fidelity, 2006)
  • On Fire (Engine, 2011)
  • On Fire Volume 2 (Engine, 2012)
  • A Night in November (Valid, 2013)
  • Trio and Duo in New Orleans (NoBusiness, 2013)
  • Last Trane to New Orleans (2020)

As sideman[edit]

with Larry Williams:

with Professor Longhair:

  • Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge (Rhino)

with The Improvisational Arts Quintet:

  • No Compromise! (Prescription)

with Hamiet Bluiett:

with Johnny Adams:

with Joel Futterman:

  • Revelation (Kali)
  • New Orleans Rising (Konnex Records)
  • The Joel Futterman / 'Kidd' Jordan Trio with Alvin Fielder-Southern Extreme (Drimala Records)

with William Parker

with Alan Silva:

with R.E.M.:

with Fred Anderson

with World Saxophone Quartet


  1. ^ Kidd Jordan at AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-04-14.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Panken, Ted (December 2003). "Kidd Jordan interview". Cadence Magazine. Redwood, NY: Cadnor Ltd.: 5–16, 132–133. ISSN 0162-6973.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Weiss, Ken (Jan–Mar 2013). "Interview: Kidd Jordan". Cadence Magazine. Portland, OR: Cadence Media LLC. 39 (1 (403)): 106–120. ISSN 0162-6973.
  4. ^ Chinen, Nate (June 13, 2008). "A Sax Man of Distinction and That Vision Thing". New York Times. Retrieved September 17, 2010.
  5. ^ Swenson, John (April 27, 2004). "Kidd Stuff". Gambit Weekly. Retrieved September 17, 2010.
  6. ^ "KIDD JORDAN - PALM OF SOUL". AUM Fidelity. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  7. ^ "San Jose Jazz Festival". Retrieved 2019-12-16.
  8. ^ "Do Whatcha Wanna". Treme. Season 2. Episode 21. HBO. Retrieved 2013-05-16.

External links[edit]