Sir Edward "Kidd" Jordan - Saxophonist
Sir Edward "Kidd" Jordan was recognized as a jazz maverick back in the 1940s intent on exploring jazz rooted music's outer reaches. In recognition of his great musical achievements, knighthood was bestowed on him by the Republic of France where he holds the title Chevalier des Artes et Lettres."
The legendary saxophonist is acclaimed internationally as one of the true master improvisers still performing today. Indie Jazz aptly describes Kidd Jordan as a "genteel man" who is probably the single most under-documented jazz musician of his generation, a fact that is even more remarkable when you consider that he is also one of the busiest musicians in the world. Jordan was recognized as a jazz maverick back in the 1940s intent on exploring jazz rooted music's outer reaches.
This virtuoso unselfishly shared his gift of and passion for music for more than 50 years, 34 of which he spent at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) until he retired in 2006 as head of the jazz studies program.
Jordan performs on tenor, baritone, soprano, alto, C-melody and sopranino saxophones, as well as contrabass and bass clarinets. He has performed and recorded with a broad array of musicians in styles ranging from R&B to avant-garde jazz, including Lena Horne, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, R.E.M., Art Neville, Aaron Neville, Johnny Adams, Deacon John, Ellis Marsalis, Cannonball Adderley, Alvin Batiste, Archie Shepp, Dewey Redmond, Fred Anderson, Ornette Coleman, Sun RA, William Parker, Hamid Drake, Alan Silva, Ed Blackwell, and Cecil Taylor, among others. He was a member of two prominent New Orleans Big Bands: William Houston, and Herb Tassin.
The Improvisation Arts Quintet, a group he founded in 1975 with drummer Alvin Fielder, bassist London Branch, trumpeter Clyde Kerr, and saxophonist Alvin Thomas which later included, pianist Darrel Lavigne, pianist Joel Futterman, bassist Elton Heron, flutist Kent Jordan and trumpeter Marlon Jordan has recorded a remarkable catalogue of free flowing instinctive interactive avant-garde music in which collective passages of sounds are more than personal freedom, but an evolution of complimentary imagery moving together and apart, each artist becoming an ear, an eye and most of all a heart for the sake of the creative spiritual soul.
Citing him as a visionary educator and performer, the French Government recognized Jordan in 1985 as a Knight (Chevalier) of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, their nation's highest honor.
In May of 2017 Jordan received an honorary doctor of music degree from Loyola University New Orleans ─ a distinction reserved at Loyola for eminent individuals whose lives of achievement and service exemplify the philosophy of Jesuit education.
For the past three decades or so Jordan has had a highly productive and close relationship with drummer Alvin Fielder and bassist William Parker. Jordan developed a close musical relationship with innovative pianist Joel Futterman back in the early 90's and they continue to perform and record together. Jordan's first recording was titled, "No Compromise" and that very accurately expresses his personal conviction about his music.
A New Orleans resident, Jordan was born in Crowley, Louisiana on May 5, 1935 where he grew up listening to Zydeco and Blues. It was there that he learned to play saxophone from his music teachers; Warren Milson and Joseph Oger, a French-Canadian. After hearing Charlie Parker and Lester Young, he became interested in the art of jazz improvisation.
His growth as a musician later continued at Ross High School in Crowley where he encountered Southern University alums Emmett Jacobs and William Byrd. When Mr. Jordan landed in Baton Rouge from 1952 to 1955 he advanced his music studies under Southern University's band director T. Leroy Davis and woodwind teachers John Banks and Huel Perkins. At Southern he also connected with another soon-to-be musical legend, his band mate and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brother and future brother-in-law the late Alvin Batiste.
Upon receiving his degree, Jordan relocated in 1955 to New Orleans, where he began playing R&B alongside musicians such as Guitar Slim, Ray Charles, Big Maybelle, Big Joe Turner, Lloyd Lambert, Lawrence Cotton, Chuck Willis, George Adams, and Choker Campbell. He later earned his master's degree in music from Millikin University and pursued post-graduate summer studies with Fred Hempke at Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois.
Jordan later earned his master's degree in music from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois where he studied under Drs. J. Roger Miller, Roger Schueler and Jean Northrup. Jordan's post-graduate summer studies lead him to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where he studied under Fred Hemke who doubled as a reed maker.
Jordan organized the first World Saxophone Quartet in 1976 that included saxophonists Hamiet Bluiett, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake and David Murray accompanied by Alvin Fielder (drums), Elton Heron (electric bass), and London Branch (bass) at shows performed at SUNO (12/9/76) and the famed "Lu and Charilie's" (12/10/76 & 12/11/76) respectively. He has amassed a discography of over 30 recordings and has performed in jazz and music festivals around the world including Germany, Netherlands, Finland, France, and Africa, has been a featured performer with the New Orleans Philharmonic, as well as performed with various "pit bands" in support of shows that come through New Orleans. Jordan has been a regular performer at the Visions Festival in New York each spring.
After his years at Southern University as a student, Mr. Jordan began his journey to share his knowledge of music. Jordan began his formal teaching career in 1955 at Bethune High School in Norco, Louisiana. Prior to that, he spent time in New Orleans' historic Faubourg Tremé as an instructor at the William Houston School of Music.
In 1972 he became a professor of music at Southern University where he shared his vision of improvisation and encouraged students to find their authentic creative voices for over 34 years. As chairman of Southern University's Jazz Studies Program, he organized the first performance of the legendary World Saxophone Quartet featuring Hamiet Bluiett, David Murray, Julius Hemphil, and Oliver Lake. For over 25 years, he has taught at the Jazz and Heritage School of Music and has served as Artistic Director for the Louis Armstrong Satchmo Jazz Camp, an outstanding community outreach program.
"Mr. Jordan's legacy is solidified by his insistence that his students' music contain one critical element---originality. And he practices what he preaches. Mr. Jordan once said, "Nowadays everybody just wants to play the same stuff that everybody else is playing. Same solos, same licks, and I can see that, because everybody wants to be accepted, but I don't care about that. The minute someone wants to pat me on the back about something is the minute I'm ready to leave. You've got to know yourself and what you're capable of doing and how you want to do it."
Jordan has taught hundreds, if not thousands, of students including well-known musicians Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Donald Harrison, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, Leroy Adams, Calvin Johnson, Sammie "Big Sam", William, Charles Joseph, Julius Handy, Curley Blanchard, Gary Brown, Kirk Ford, Raymond Deggs, George Pack, Richard Moten, John Longo, Reggie Houston, Wendell Brunius, Abe Thompson, Maynard Chatters, Jr., Elton Heron, Carl Leblanc, Darrell Lavigne, Tony Dagradi, Jonathan Batiste, and others.
Other former students includes; Brian Quezergue, Kenneth Anderson, Andrew Baham, Paul Batiste, Peter Batiste, Alonza Bowens, Neal Dominque, Joe Dyson, Kurt Ford, Natasha Harris, Arthur Mitchell, Aja Mohammed, Conan Pappas, Usie Phillips, Wesley Phillips, Khristopher Royal, Chris Severin, Vernon Severin, Troy Sawyer, Walter Smith, III, Tony Villon, Richard Moten, Louis Bibbs, Abe Compson, Wali Abbel Ra'oof, Safi Ra'oof, Gregory Agid, Courtney Bryan, Sarina Taylor, Bazile Williams, Ervin Williams, Glenny Massie, Rodney Massie, George Verret, LeRoy Haynes, Edward Francis, Robert Roy, Ed Berrin and many, many others.
Jordan was honored with Offbeat magazine's first Lifetime Achievement Award for Music Education and his music contributions have been documented on CBS' 60 Minutes. In 2008, Southern University at New Orleans Foundation honored Jordan during their annual BASH III and Jordan received a Lifetime Achievement Honoree at the Vision Festival XIII in New York City. In 2013, the Jazz Journalist Association named Jordan a "Jazz Hero."
Although Mr. Jordan's dedication to music education can safely be described as unmatched, his dedication to his family has been immeasurable. Through the years he has been able to boast being the husband of Edvidge Chatters Jordan and the father of Edward, Jr., Kent, Christie, Paul, Stephanie, Rachel and Marlon. Four of the Jordan children are well-known professional musicians: Kent, a master flutist; Stephanie, a noted jazz singer; Rachel, a classical violinist; and Marlon, an acclaimed jazz trumpeter. Mr. Jordan even found a horse racing and training partner in his nephew Maynard Chatters, Jr.