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Saturday, April 8, 2023

Kidd Jordan (1935 - 2023)

Edward "Kidd"Jordan (photo by Peter Gannushkin)
By Martin Schray

Edward “Kidd“ Jordan was not only an outstanding musician, he was also a great entertainer. During his performances in the last years, e.g. at the Vision Festival, he joked that he only had very few gigs per year and therefore he had to give all the more. Which he then did. At a concert with Dave Burrell, James Brandon Lewis, William Parker and Andrew Cyrille he blew with Lewis until he almost fell over. He leaned against the piano, took a few deep breaths, and went on even wilder. Then he enjoyed the standing ovations of the audience and shook hands with anyone who wanted to have them. It was a rock star moment. Now the great saxophonist and clarinettist has passed away.

Kidd Jordan was born in Crowley/Louisiana and moved to New Orleans in 1955, a city his name will always be associated with. From 1974 to 2006 he taught at Southern University in Baton Rouge, where he became a renowned jazz educator teaching the Marsalis brothers and Terence Blanchard, among others. He has also worked with a wide variety of artists from various musical fields ranging from R&B to free jazz, including Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder, as well as Ornette Coleman, Peter Kowald, Sunny Murray, and Archie Shepp. As a session musician he played in Hal Willner's Lost in the Stars Brecht/Weill project in Mark Bingham's band, on R.E.M.'s Out of Time and Professor Longhair's Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge. How much the musical scene loved him can be seen at the fact that he was honoured with the first concert at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Center as it opened on December 15, 2014. He also appeared in an episode of David Simon's outstanding New Orleans series Treme.

But Jordan has also always had a passion for free jazz, appearing on The Improvisational Arts Quintet's No Compromise! New New Orleans Music (1983), for example. His career as a leader, however, only really got underway in the late 1980s and 1990s and is inseparably linked to the names Joel Futterman (piano) and Alvin Fielder (drums). Fielder and Jordan have started playing together in the 1970s and have performed with Futterman in various configurations since the mid-1990s. It was Fielder who once told Jordan: “We ain’t gonna play no more tunes. We’re just gonna go on the bandstand and start playing.“ It was Jordan’s musical secret that he wasn’t improvising but rather “playing with the drums”, as he called it.

At the end of his career Kidd Jordan became a wonderful voice of the free jazz scene, he released excellent albums. My favorite ones are Palm of Soul (Aum Fidelity, 2006) with William Parker and Hamid Drake and Trio and Duo in New Orleans (NoBusiness, 2013) with Peter Kowald and Alvin Fielder. Also worth mentioning are 2 Days in April (Eremite, 2000) with Fred Anderson, William Parker and Hamid Drake and finally Live at Tampere Jazz Happening 2000 (Charles Lester Music, 2004), again with his long-term companions Futtermann and Fielder, a true free jazz rush.

In a short break between two pieces at the Vision Festival in 2018 Jordan told the story that he got his nickname being the youngest player among the older, more experienced ones and that he found it somehow strange that he was on stage with all these younger cats, 83 years old. And that he was still the “Kidd“. Now the “Kidd“ has left the stage for good. Hopefully, there will be a great second line for him in New Orleans.

Watch Kidd Jordan in a marvelous duo set with Andrew Cyrille at the Vision Festival 2019:


Lee said...

The albums Kidd made with Futterman and Fielder are all really fantastic. Also, on Fred Anderson's 21st Century Chase, with Kidd, Harrison Bankhead, Jeff Parker, and Chad Taylor, the whole group goes into the stratosphere. Kidd was an extraordinary player, he will be very, very missed.

Nick Ostrum said...

Sad to see this news. I was fortunate enough to see Kidd a few times in larger settings (Vision Festivals) and at much smaller, more intimate gigs just a few years ago in New Orleans. He always played hard and thoughtfully, even when he was 84 and recovering from a cold. An irreplaceable loss.