Photo: Kidd Jordan @ the 2016 Vision Fest | © Joyce Jones/ Suga Bowl Photography. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Used with Permission.
The next show will air on Sunday, May 28, 2017 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. Suga’ In My Bowl continues its Vision 22 coverage featuring the 2008 Lifetime of Achievement recipient composer, saxophonist, teacher and mentor Edward “Kidd” Jordan.
Edward “Kidd” Jordan (May 5, 1935) was born in Crowley, Louisiana, and was raised during the time when rice farming was the predominant economic activity in the area. 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.” Zydeco musician Clifton Chenier hailed from the same area, as did tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet (whose music teacher also instructed Jordan).
Jordan’s first instruments were C-melody and alto saxophones. 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. Jordan read transcribed solos in Down Beat magazine but also learned Parker’s music by ear. 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).
Jordan majored in music education at Southern University, attending the school at the same time as Alvin Batiste (his brother-in-law). He originally planned to become a classical alto saxophonist. 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. 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.”
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. 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. In 2008, he was awarded a lifetime recognition honor by the Vision Festival.
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.”
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). 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. A few weeks after the hurricane, he recorded the album Palm of Soul in Brooklyn with William Parker and Hamid Drake. Jordan has since returned to New Orleans In 2011, the television series Treme featured a track from Palm of Soul, “Last of the Chicken Wings.” Jordan later made a brief appearance in Treme.
(Bio adapted from Wikipedia)
Vision 22 starts Sunday, May 28 at Anthology Film Archives. Vision 22 features film, dance, music, visual art and poetry. Suga’ will open the program with a spoken word piece titled “Negroidal Noise” by Kalamu Ya Salaam featuring Kidd Jordan from his release My Story My Song.
Kidd Jordan will appear at Vision 22 on Friday, June 2, for the 9:30 p.m. set with the Dave Burrell Quartet: Dave Burrell – Piano, Kidd Jordan – Tenor Saxophone, William Parker – Bass, William Hooker – Drums. See our blog for an extended preview and full coverage of this year’s Vision Fest. WBAI proudly returns as a media sponsor.
This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.
Watch Jordan lead a quartet with bassist William Parker, drummer Hamid Drake, and the late violinist Billy Bang in this live performance.
Watch Jordan with drummer Milford Graves and pianist DD Jackson in this 2013 live performance at the Vision Festival.
Watch Jordan in this 2017 improvised set at the Hi Ho Lounge in New Orleans.
Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman and Hunter colleges in the City University of New York system.