#927 (8/17/19)

PART ONE (THE 1940s)

"The Green Grass Grows All Around"
Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five
on Decca 8605 A
released in 1942

"Five Guys Named Moe"
Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five
on Decca 8653 B
released in 1943

"Deacon Jones"
Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five
on Decca 8654 B
released in 1943

"Is You Is Or Is You Ain't (Ma' Baby)"
Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five
on Decca 8659 B
released in 1944

(Includes Audio For Sixteen Songs)

Above: Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five (1944). Jordan was a saxophonist, clarinetist, singer, band leader, composer, arranger, comedian, movie star and producer, but mostly an entertainer. He first recorded for Decca as a vocalist and saxophonist in Chick Webb's band in 1936. In 1938, he started recording for Decca under his own name, continuing until 1954, at which time he moved to the Aladdin label and then, in 1955, on to RCA Victor's "X" Records.

All of the Louis Jordan record selections on this webpage are by "Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five", a band name that he consistently kept throughout his career (regardless of the actual number of members).

(NOTE: Definitions of "tympany" include "a resonant sound heard in percussion", "pretentious", "bombast", and "pomposity".)

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): "It's Swell Of You" - Chick Webb Orchestra (Vocal: Louis Jordan) - Decca 1213 B - 1937.
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

Above: Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five (1944).

Above: Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five. From the film "Swing Parade Of 1946". The dancer sitting at far left is Peggy Thomas. Don't know name of the dancer sitting far right.

Above: Customary photos of Louis Jordan and his ever-present saxophone. Picture at above left is from The Billboard 1945/1946 Music Year Book.

Above: Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five (1940).

Above: Louis Jordan. (1946, 1945, 1946)

Above: Clippings from The Billboard (Left) 1942 Band Year Book and (Right) 1943 Music Year Book.

Double-barreled stage entertainment in a 2-for-1 stage show opens today on the stage of the State Theater. The first half of the show features Louis Jordan (top right), composer of "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't", and his Jumpin' Jivin' Band.... (Note that Jordon is playing a clarinet in the picture.)

Above: WEEKLY REVIEW (Birmingham. Alabama), November 3, 1944: PLANS TO SING BERT WILLIAMS TUNE
This week, Louis Jordan, sensational bandleader who is playing the Apollo Theatre, was busy getting ready for a grand comeback into the Paramount Theatre June 13th. He just closed his first engagement there February 27th after three weeks of wowing Broadway. To get ready he's ordering summer uniforms for the boys and searching for new tunes. He plans to sing "That Couldn't Happen To Nobody Else But Me", a song Bert Williams made famous in the old days.

His return Paramount date is a record no one else has set. It seems that Harry Levine, theatre talent selector and Bob Weitman, managing director of the Paramount house agreed that no one but Louis Jordan has stimulated so their patronage in the last five years—that is no one but Frank Sinatra. So they booked him and his band to come back in less than three and a half months....

Meanwhile, Louis, untouched by the fuss the Paramount is making over him, is still going on as scheduled—doing theatre dates until June 13th. Next week, Louis Jordan and band plays the Howard Theatre in Washington, then one nighters through Virginia and North Carolina....

Above: Clippings from The Billboard dated (Left) 1/29/44 and (Right) 4/7/45.

Above: Clippings from Indianapolis Recorder newspaper dated (Left) 4/5/44 and (Right) 4/30/49.

Above: Clippings from (Left) Dayton Herald dated 5/23/47 and (Right) Detroit Free Press dated 8/18/47.
(NOTE: Part Two will feature Louis Jordan movies/videos.)

At Left: Although the picture of Louis Jordan is from the mid-1940s, this Apollo poster seems to be
from 1962.

Above: Apollo poster announcing the coming of Louis Jordan (from either 1947 or 1952).


"America's Most Amazing Musical Personality" is the tagline of Louis Jordan, and among colored attractions few have skyrocketed to the upper brackets so quickly in the past few years. Jordan and his Tympany Five started in the cocktail lounges, but his ability as a showman, composer, and musician soon had more lucrative offers pouring in. Within the past two years he has played many of the leading white and colored theaters in the land and is now set to go to work on the Universal lot for his first picture this month. In night spots and on one-nighters he's a consistent top grosser and his popularity on records, especially in the juke boxes, is attested by the fact that he's Decca's No. 1 colored artist. Booked by General Amusement Corporation.

Writing about Louis Jordan is like writing about four guys all at the same time. Jordan's talents as a musician, ork leader, comedian, and composer have him running a neck-and-neck race with himself down the popularity track. His Tympany Five has played many of the same spots as the big standard name bands, and in many cases have equaled, and in some cases topped the grosses set by the larger outfits. Jordan's comic vocalizing has won him and his Five featured Parts in several Universal musicals. The boys are currently on the Coast shooting another for the same Studio. While in Hollywood they are playing the well-known Troc.

Probably more responsible than any other single factor for Jordan's success are his Decca records, which have been played around in juke boxes and on home phonos to the extent of some 3,000,000 disks. Band's current release is "GI Jive," backed by "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't." Other top records by the Tympanyites are "Knock Me A Kiss," "Outskirts Of Town," "Chicks That I Pick," and "Four Guys Named Moe." Testimony to Jordan's ability as a composer is the fact that all the tunes listed here, which have been waxed by the band, with the exception of "GI Jive," Jordan composed them all.

Jordan has just signed for Columbia's pic "Bobby-Sock Brigade." He has also volunteered to play for free a bobby-socks concert for any group of soxers others on the West Coast, just as he did some time ago on the East Coast.

(NOTE: "Bobby-Sock Brigade" was probably the 1944 movie "Meet Miss Bobby Socks".)

Chicagoans had a chance recently to hear the playing of Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five—and they got a very pleasant earful. Louis was fulfilling a much-cherished ambition when he played that date at the Chicago theater. Four years ago he headed a small and hot combination at the Capitol Lounge just across the alley from the theater. All the time he was there he was dreaming of the day when he'd see his name on the marquee of the Chicago that day came.

It wasn't as if the capitol date was his first good job. Louis had been playing baritone and alto and doing vocals for a good many years. Born in 1908 in Brinkley, Arkansas, he started musical studies early and continued them through his years at College in Little Rock. Ruby Williams was playing in Hot Springs, Arkansas, about that time and he worked with her for a while. About 15 years ago he joined Charlie Gaines in the East, shifted to several other bands, and finally to Chick Webb. He organized his own unit in 1939.

Decca has recently issued two platters of Jordana and all four sides are marked especially by the Jordan style of singing. His humorous way of handling a lyric is his trademark and he uses it extensively in these numbers. "Caldonia" seems almost tailor-made for Jordan—although Woody Herman, of course, is completely out in front in the Orchestral version. Louis gives the Crazy lyrics just the right touch of comedy, and the sax and trumpet work that provides most of the interludes is in line with his singing. The B side is "Somebody Done Changed The Lock On My Door" and is a slow, humorous blues with a good piano effect. The other recent Jordan effort is "You Can't Get That No More," a commentary on the scarcity of a lot of things the rationing boards never thought of handling, while "Mop Mop" leans more to the instrumental, with sax, trumpet, and clarinet giving it lift if not exactly class.

Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five (now and large to six with piano, bass, drums, Guitar, tenor sax ,and trumpet, plus the maestro's Alto) have risen steadily since Jordan started as a fronter five years ago. Always considered a fine show man even back in the early thirties when he was lead Alto with Chick Webb, Jordan has capitalized on his sales ability and carried his present combination to the top rung among screen, record, radio, vaude, and dancery favorites.

The past year has been a busy and important one for Jordan. His personal appearances include engagements at the following theaters: Chicago, Chicago; Downtown, Detroit; Golden Gate, San Francisco; and Orpheum, Los Angeles. Besides this he's made three p.a.'s from the stage of the Paramount Theater, New York, during the past eight months. Night clubs which have touted his name from their marquees include Town Barn, Buffalo; Club Bali, Washington; and the Zanzibar, New York.

His flicker stints include his own starring vehicle "Caldonia," and a featured spot in Harry Romm's "Swing Parade Of 1946." Since the first of the year, he's racked up seven visits to the "Chesterfield Supper Club," NBC Network show. A Decca recording artist since 1940, Jordan hit his peak via wax this year when he was co-featured on four sides with Bing Crosby. Personally managed by Berle Adams, Chicago, and booked by General Amusement Corporation.

ST. LOUIS, MO.—Al Mason, local music op and purchaser of the first AMI Model "A" juke box to arrive here, got the thrill of his life when checking with the location where he placed the machine to bump right into Louis Jordan, the famed orchestra leader. Mason declared, "Louis Jordan is one of the swellest guys I've ever met—and you can take it from me he knows just what a grand job juke boxes do for his marvelous records."

One of the nation's solidest outfits, the hot quintet lead by Louis Jordan, will play here Thursday night at the Manhattan Casino. Even though he's sitting on top of the world nowadays, Jordan remembers the time when he had to wonder where his next meal was coming from and how he could move his quintet from one place to the next. "I'll never forget those days," says Louis, "for the memories make me really thankful for what we have now."

Louis likes to reminisce. "There were times when the boys would pool their money to share a dime hamburger. I once washed dishes to pay for a meal in Peoria. Many's the time we did not get paid because the owner skipped town on pay day." But Jordan sighed and moved on to the next job whenever that happened. "I wrote a tune once called 'I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town' and sold it to a publishing house. They put it in some pigeon-hole and forgot all about it. Then when I was signed to Decca Records, I recorded 'Outskirts' and got lucky. The tune was a great success and the publisher had his whole staff working overtime trying to find the original copy. It was one of their biggest hits. It was also my biggest up to that time and served to popularize my Tympany Five. After the record hit, we never had to worry about eating again. But I still say that we had fun in those days I wouldn't have missed them for the world."

NEW YORK—"Bandleader Louis Jordan will probably go down in theatrical history as one of the greatest song comedians of all time," said a veteran showman who compared him to the late and famed Bert Williams. Praising Jordan's knack of "Knocking 'em in the aisles" wherever he appears, Noble Sissle, who was once associated with Williams and who is regarded as one of America's foremost authorities on Negro show business, asserted that Louis' versatility is the mark of a genius. "This was demonstrated," he said, "in the Jordan-Ella Fitzgerald 'Stone Cold Dead In The Market' recording of last year. The sax-playing maestro's handling of the West Indian dialect would have done the Duke Of Iron credit," Sissle added. Jordan's droll style and timing and the typical Bert Williams formula of always being a yokel in trouble and poking fun at himself has won for him a host of followers.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): "Stone Cold Dead In The Market" - Ella Fitzgerald And Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five - Decca 23546 A - 1945.

EXTRA AUDIO #1 (Windows Media Player):
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

The Cash Box Race Disk Of The Week (10/16/48):

You're On The Right Track, Baby/Daddy-O

And still they come! Here's Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five with chirp Martha Davis sitting on a pair that have all the ear-marks of a coin culler. Louis and Martha get together on "You're On The Right Track, Baby" to offer ops another potent money-maker. Ditty spins in the patterned Jordan fashion, with the wax holding a story in the offing. Stuff is cute as all get out and should run wild with music ops. Rhythm displayed here is hard to beat, with the group's driving style and up beat tempo prevailing.

On the flip with a ditty currently receiving heavy publicity, Louis and Martha gather for the mellow "Daddy-O." The tune makes for pleasant listening and should find excellent reaction from the many Jordan fans. "You're On The Right Track, Baby" is the side to ride with. Hop on—but fast!

ABOVE LEFT: Decca 24502 B label image. The record was recorded on December 18, 1947 and released in 1948. While Martha Davis did have some other releases on Decca, this seems to be the only record Louis Jordan and Davis did together.

ABOVE MIDDLE: "Martha Davis And Her Spouse", which was the name they used for their musical act.

1. "You're On The Right Track Baby" - Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five And Martha Davis - Decca 24502 B - 1948.
2. "Daddy-O" - Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five And Martha Davis - Decca 24502 A - 1948.

BOTH SIDES played in sequence.

EXTRA AUDIO #2 (Windows Media Player):
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

ABOVE LEFT: Decca 24673 A label image. The side was recorded on April 12, 1949 and released in 1949.

ABOVE LEFT MIDDLE: Decca 24725 label image. The side was recorded on August 9, 1949 and released in 1949.

ABOVE RIGHT MIDDLE: Decca 24815 label image. The side was recorded on April 28, 1949 and the record released in 1949.

ABOVE RIGHT: Decca 25394 B label image. The side was recorded on April 2, 1941 and the record released in 1947.
(NOTE: This is a re-issue, the side was originally released in 1941 on Decca 8650 B.)

The Cash Box Review (8/6/49):

Beans And Corn Bread/Chicky-Mo Craney-Crow

Pair of lovely sides done up in the very best of Louis Jordan's sensational style crop up here, with the top deck, "Beans & Corn Bread," beckoning some heavy coin play. The side is a mellow up-tempo ditty, with Louis and the boys beating out some mellow instrumental licks, in addition to a ton of hot lyrics. The flip continues in the same vein and has the Jordan crew turning in another excellent performance. Top deck is the winner.

LISTEN: "Chicky-Mo Craney Crow" - Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five - Decca 24673 B - 1949.
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

The Cash Box Review (12/10/49):

School Days/I Know What I've Got

You ain't heard nothin' yet, till you've heard this latest Louis Jordan biscuit. A sure fire coin culler if there ever was one is Louis' great rendition of "School Days." Louis and the boys join voices and come up with a novel arrangement of this standard. Platter has a zillion nursury rhymes combined and is offered at a mellow tempo pace that seems a natural for the phonos. The other side has the maestro taking it solo, and turning in a great performance. "School Days" for the moola.

LISTEN: "I Know What I've Got" - Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five - Decca 24815 - 1949.
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

1. "Beans And Corn Bread" - Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five - Decca 24673 A - 1949.
2. "Saturday Night Fish Fry - Part 1 And (Concluded)" - Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five - Decca 24725 - 1949.
3. "School Days" - Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five - Decca 24815 - 1949.
4. "Saxa-Woogie" - Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five - Decca 25394 - 1947.

ALL FOUR SIDES played in sequence.

EXTRA AUDIO #3 (Windows Media Player):
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

ABOVE LEFT: Decca 24587 B label image. The record was recorded on February 7, 1949 and released in 1949.

ABOVE RIGHT: "Race Disk O The Week" review from The Cash Box dated 3/26/49.

AT LEFT: Clipping from The Billboard dated 3/12/49.

LISTEN: "Safe, Sane And Single" - Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five - Decca 24587 B - 1949.

(NOTE: The above side provided by Dave Saviet.)

Above Left: Label image of Decca 8605 A recorded on November 22, 1941 and released in 1942.

Above Right: Label image of Decca 8653 B recorded on July 21, 1942 and released in 1943.

Above Left: Label image of Decca 8654 B recorded on October 4, 1943 released in 1943.

Above Right: Label image of Decca 8659 B recorded on October 4, 1943 released in 1944.

The Billboard Review (4/29/44):

LOUIS JORDAN — DECCA 8659....G.I. Jive/Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby
Until now devoting all of his disk efforts to the characteristic race blues and indigo ditties, and with a high degree of sales success, Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five make a strong stand to garner wider appeal with these two sides. The performance turned in augurs a deepening wave of enthusiasm for the brand of jive Jordan dishes out in his own inimitable manner. Johnny Mercer's "G.I. Jive" is exactly that for Jordan's sultry chanting. Taken at a moderate tempo with a jumpy shuffle beat accenting the rhythms thruout, Jordan kicks out in song all the "G.I. Jive" that Mercer has packed in the humorous lyrics. Breaks up his song for a lick at his alto sax, and for the entire expanse of the spinning. It's Jordan at his grooviest best.

"Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" is another one of those jivey race ditties which Jordan always does so well. This one, put together with Billy Austin, served to bring the little band onto the screen in "Follow The Boys." Taken at a moderate jump tempo the lyrics are whipped up by the boys in unison and again with Jordan on his own, peppered by the blues notings of the trumpet boy with the band.

Still another double duty disk for the music operators in this pairing. The youthful enthusiasts, along with the service lads, will find "G.I. Jive" to their likings. With the strong picture association, special phono attention will be accorded the catchy "Is You Is" ditty which packs plenty of promise in taking hold.

LISTEN (Windows Media Player): "G.I. Jive" - Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five - Decca 8659 A - 1944.
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

NOTE: A special thanks to Hans-Joachim Krohberger and Dave Saviet for their help with this Record of the Week.

NOTE: Most discographical information provided at this website is from Ferdie Gonzalez' Disco-File.

Listen to this week's selections featuring Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five on Decca from 1942-1944 using Windows Media Player:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
          1. The Green Grass Grows All Around
          2. Five Guys Named Moe
          3. Deacon Jones
          4. Is You Is Or Is You Ain't (Ma' Baby)
          played in sequence.
          played in sequence

          [To download audio files, right-click on song title
          link and then click "Save link (target) as..."]