Edward "Kidd" Jordan's multi-faceted legacy is among of the most influential and enduring in the history of improvised music. An integral part of the seminal musical tapestry of New Orleans, he is the patriarch of one of the city's most respected musical families and his parallel careers as a performer and educator span the past six decades. Now 73, he has worked most of his life outside the mainstream spotlight, tirelessly sustaining the jazz continuum through both his teaching and his cutting edge performances all around the globe with like-minded improvisers.
Born on May 5th, 1935 in Crowley, Louisiana, about two and a half hours Northwest of New Orleans, Jordan grew up in Cajun country listening to zydeco and blues music before hearing Charlie Parker, Lester Young and other jazz musicians while in high school. By his freshman year in college at Southern University in Baton Rouge, where he studied music, he was playing professionally with local groups. After graduating in 1955, he relocated to New Orleans and began pursuing two of the trademark elements of his career: teaching music and working in pit bands and pick-up groups with the wide variety of prominent musicians passing through the city. That year he also became the brother-in-law of life-long musical partner, and fellow New Orleans jazz legend, Alvin Batiste.
After teaching music in high schools, and eventually college, during the day, he spent his nights performing with groups ranging from the casts of traveling Broadway shows to the major jazz, soul, blues and Motown artists of the time. The list includes Tony Bennett, Big Maybelle, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Billy Eckstine, Guitar Slim, Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, Earl King, Gladys Knight, Esther Phillips, The Four Tops, The O'Jays, The Temptations, Big Joe Turner, Nancy Wilson and Stevie Wonder among others. Living and working in New Orleans, he also performed and recorded with the city's most recognizable local talent, including Johnny Adams, the Neville Brothers (in an early band called The Hawkettes) and Professor Longhair. He would later perform as a featured soloist with the New Orleans Philharmonic.
Although he is closely associated with the native music scene of New Orleans, where he lived for more than 50 years before being displaced from his home by Hurricane Katrina, Jordan has also taught and performed all around the world. His penchant for free improvisation, and travels to the jazz meccas of New York and Chicago, where he earned his Master's at Milliken University and did other post-graduate study at Northwestern University, led to his best-known work in the jazz avant-garde with the likes of Muhal Richard Abrams, Ed Blackwell, Hamiet Bluiett, Ornette Coleman, Julius Hemphill, David Murray, Sunny Murray, Sun Ra and Archie Shepp. Chicago-based musicians, and founding members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Fred Anderson and Alvin Fielder, are two of his most familiar musical partners, as is Chicago native, Joel Futterman.