Louis Jordan: Take The A Train


Take The A Train


Louis Jordan (vocals, alto sax)


I Believe In Music (Evidence 26006-2)

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Louis Jordan (vocals, alto sax),

Irv Cox (tenor), Duke Burrell (piano), John Duke (bass), Archie Taylor (drums)


Composed by Billy Strayhorn


Recorded: Paris, France, Nov. 6, 1973


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

Louis Jordan, one of the original creators of R & B and a key influence on the development of rock 'n roll, is best remembered today for his irrepressible vocals on such '40's hits as "Caldonia," "Saturday Night Fish Fry," "Let the Good Times Roll," and "Five Guys Named Moe." But look past Jordan's jump band jive and you can't help but admire his alto saxophone playing, so swinging, piercing, and zestful. Let's not forget that he honed both his alto and vocal skills with Chick Webb's orchestra before breaking through on his own in the '40's with his Tympany Five. He was as much a jazz musician as an R & B or blues performer, and considered himself to be such.

Less than two years before his death in 1975, the then 65-year-old Jordan recorded this instrumental version of "Take the A Train" at a session in Paris, a track that was not released until the CD reissue in 1992. Listening to it, one wonders what Duke Ellington's orchestra might have sounded like with Jordan in the sax section and as a featured soloist (and singer!). The theme is taken at standard Ellington pace and harmony between Jordan's alto and Irv Cox's tenor, while Duke Burrell lays down some Dukish chords and phrases. Jordan enters his solo with a clarion call before suavely gliding through a series of interconnected and engagingly bluesy riffs, motifs, and exuberant shouts. His trades with drummer Archie Taylor are a little one-sided, as Taylor seems to be a better timekeeper than improviser. Burrell's fills during the horns' hearty reprise even top those of the pianist at the beginning of the piece, adding to the reverent authenticity pervading this small group treatment.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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