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Kidd Jordan: Messin' with the Kidd

By Published: September 18, 2007
AAJ: You taught music in Africa?

KJ: I went over there one summer. They had some kids around there, and I tried to organize them, get them to play their music like it was jazz. I wrote a tune called "River Nadji. I was over in Mali. I wasn't trying to get them to play jazz, I was trying to get them to play their music where they have a feeling in it. You can play jazz on anything; you can jazz anything up. I play with Louis Moholo. Louis plays drums different from everybody else. I can't tell Louis to swing like Max Roach. He plays the way he plays, which is beautiful. I remember telling some guys from Ethiopia—they all wanted to play jazz, like straight ahead—I told them, "You ought to take what y'all got and do something else, and it come out to be a new kind of jazz.

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. I was halfway to Charlie Parker in high school. By the time I found out what I could do with that, it was time for me to just keep going. Fortunate it was, because I didn't have enough time to spend dealing with them records and learning all that.

I'm one of them that even in playing legitimate music, I'll start playing a classical solo, start at the beginning and put the recapitulation and jumble all of that, because I use my ears sometimes. I always needed a good accomplice, because I'd be anywhere in that thing. I hear a chord and jump from the beginning to the end, and then come back to the middle. You've got to know yourself and what you're capable of doing and how you want to do it. I guess I've always been hardheaded, because around New Orleans people been telling me I'm the last free man for the last twenty years. It's not a popular road. You stand a lot of abuse to play this music. But you got to stick to what you want to do.

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William Parker with Kidd Jordan

AAJ: How did you meet William Parker?

KJ: I had a kid I was teaching, and he used to bring a little paper from New York. What was it, some kind of little underground? I don't know if it was underground or not. [It was] Village Voice, and it would always have William Parker in it. I asked Willie Jenkins, "Man, get me William Parker's number. I called him up. William didn't know who in the hell I was from Adam's cat. He came down, said I got a gig I want you to play with me. I told him I got him out of the Yellow Pages. It worked out good. Sometimes he comes down to play with me. I'd have him and an electric bass too. Two basses and the strings of a piano—just the insides of the piano, not the keyboard. I had a good group with that. One year at the jazz festival, I had [pianist] Joel Futterman, two strings on the piano, William Parker, myself, [trumpeter] Clyde Kerr, and another pianist. Man, we really turned it out that year.

One year they let me have this band: I had [bassist] Malachi Favors, Muhal [Richard Abrams] on piano, George Lewis on trombone, Butch Morris on trumpet, and me and Fred [Anderson] on tenors. That was a killer band. We played before Count Basie and we shut them up. They went from giving me a band like that to no band at all. I guess it's just a change of the times. I've been playing the festival for years and years and years, but this year Katrina came and knocked me off the jazz festival. A double whammy for me. I guess they said, here's a chance to get rid of him, Katrina came. At least we could get a gig once a year in New Orleans, but such are the times.

AAJ: How'd you meet Fred Anderson?

KJ: They had the twentieth anniversary of the AACM [Association for the Advancement of Creative Musician], and they invited me up. Me and Fred played together. We hit it right off. I'd been looking for Fred in Chicago, but he was living in Evanston then. Eddie Harris came to New Orleans one time and said, "Kidd, you're playing free. Jack, I know a dude that's been playing free since before WWII. I said, man, I got to find this dude. Kalaparush [Maurice McIntyre, AACM charter member] used to tell me Fred Anderson put the bell of the tenor on the floor and knocked the bolts up off it. I had to find this dude. We got together last weekend in Chicago. He got his new club opened. We opened it last Friday and Saturday night in Chicago. It looks good, too. He's got a beautiful club.

AAJ: What's coming up?

KJ: I hope we can get some gigs off this record with this band. I'd love to see that. Come back and then do a record after we tour. That would really be mean.

Selected Discography

Kali Z. Fasteau, Kidd Jordan, People of the Ninth: New Orleans and the Hurricane 2005 (Flying Note Records, 2006)

Kidd Jordan, Hamid Drake, William Parker, Palm Of Soul (AUM Fidelity Records, 2006)

Kidd Jordan, Joel Futterman, Alvin Fielder, Live at the Tampere Jazz Happening 2000 (Orchard, 2004)

Alan Silva, Kidd Jordan, William Parker, Emancipation Suite #1 (Boxholder Records, 1999)

Fred Anderson, Hamid Drake, Kidd Jordan, and William Parker, 2 Days in April (Eremite Records, 1999)

The Joel Futterman/Kidd Jordan Trio with Alvin Fielder, Southern Extreme (Drimala Records, 1997)

Professor Longhair, Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge (Rhino, 1991)

R.E.M, Out Of Time (Warner Bros., 1991)

Photo Credits

Top Photo: William Brown

Second Photo: John Sharpe

All Others: Frank Rubolino

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