Celebrating the Life of Legendary Saxophonist Edward “Kidd” Jordan

Vincent Sylvain New Orleans Agenda

NEW ORLEANS, LA (April 7, 2023) – Legendary Saxophonist Sir Edward “Kidd” Jordan passed away peacefully in his sleep at home in the presence of family members on Friday, April 7, 2023.

Jordan is acclaimed internationally as one of the true master improvisers. Indie Jazz aptly describes Kidd Jordan as a “genteel man” who is probably the single most under-documented jazz musician of his generation… He was recognized as a jazz maverick back in the 1940s intent on exploring jazz rooted music’s outer reaches.

Jordan shared his gift of and passion for music for more than 50 years, thirty-four of which he spent at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) until he retired in 2006 as head of the Jazz Studies Program.

He has performed and recorded with a broad array of musicians in styles ranging from R&B to avant-garde jazz, including Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, 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.

In 1975 he founded the Improvisation Arts Quintet which recorded a remarkable catalogue of free-flowing instinctive interactive avant-garde. 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.

For the past three decades Jordan had a highly productive relationship with Drummer Alvin Fielder and Bassist William Parker. Together with innovative Pianist Joel Futterman they 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. He grew up listening to Zydeco and Blues while attending Ross High School. 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 continued when he encountered Southern University Baton Rouge 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 bandmate and Kappa Alpha Psi F raternity brother and future brother-in-law, the late Alvin Batiste.

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.

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 led him to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he studied under Fred Hemker.

After his years at Southern University, 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. 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 25 years, he taught at the Jazz and Heritage School of Music and since 1995 served as Artistic Director for the Louis Armstrong Satchmo Jazz Camp.

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 and the famed “Lu and Charlie’s.” He has amassed a discography of over thirty recordings and has performed in jazz and music festivals around the world and has been a regular performer at the Visions Festival in New York.

“Mr. Jordan’s legacy is solidified by his insistence that his students’ music contain one critical element—originality. In keeping with the old adage that ‘No man is an island entire of itself’ Jordan has taught hundreds 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 Brunious, Abe Thompson, Maynard Chatters, Jr., Elton Heron, Carl Leblanc, Darrell Lavigne, Tony Dagradi, Jonathan “Jon” Batiste, Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah (formerly Christian Scott), Gregory Davis, Paul Batiste, Chris Severin, Jonathan Bloom, and Brian Quezergue among others.

Jordan was honored with Offbeat Magazine’s first Lifetime Achievement Award for Music Education, and his musical 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.” In May of 2017, Jordan received an honorary Doctor of Music Degree from Loyola University New Orleans. On Kidd’s 87th birthday on May 5, 2022, the New Orleans City Council proclaimed May 5th Edward “Kidd” Jordan Day in the City of New Orleans.

On May 20, 2020, Jordan celebrated his 85th birthday with the announcement of his final album, “Last Trane to New Orleans,” produced by his daughter Rachel produced and engineered by grandson Paul Sims. The album showcases Kidd Jordan’s Avant-garde style and expresses his life experiences. The live recording was held at McDonogh 35 Senior High School auditorium on the eve of the City-wide imposed Stay Home Coronavirus restrictions.

Through the years, he has been able to boast of 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.

Final arrangements have been trusted to D.W. Rhodes Funeral Home; details are pending.

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