SEATTLE MUSIC FANS had a long and mutual love affair with the pioneering Harlem-based jump-blues / R&B bandleader, sax-man – and widely renowned “King of the Juke Box” – Louis Jordan (1908-1975). For decades Jordan brought his band through the Northwest thrilling throngs of dancers with explosive shows that were spiced with a comedic edge. Today Jordan is best remembered for a couple of his many, many hits: “Saturday Night Fish Fry” – which has been touted by historians as a contender for the title of “First Rock Record” – and “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie.”
When the final time was that Jordan performed in Seattle is yet to be determined, but this photo (from the estate of his widow, Martha Jordan) recently surfaced showing the couple visiting the Century 21 World’s Fair in 1962. Jordan’s band probably first toured the area pushing their 1930s recordings for the giant Decca label. Then in the 1940s they came through town quite regularly, playing major shows in large venues like the Trianon Ballroom (218 Wall Street) and the Palomar Theater (1300 Third Avenue). But the fun-lovin’ band also enjoyed after-gig jams at various jazz rooms around town – and even a bit south of town.

In the 1940s a legendary but short-lived nightspot called the New Orleans Club – not to be confused with Seattle's more recent (1985-2014) New Orleans Creole Restaurant (114 First Avenue S.) – was founded just down the old dirt road from the Longacres racetrack west of Renton. As Seattle jazz historian Paul de Barros noted in his 1993 book, Jackson Street Afterhours: “The club had a barbeque pit and a New Orleans chef; the band was as hot as the food. …There was a complete floor show and, for a while, big-time traveling acts…performed there.”

I recently acquired the New Orleans Club’s original owners’ amazing collection of vintage promotional photographs of many of the artists who gigged there. Among these images are those of Billie Holiday (who sang there in March 1949), Christine Chatman (the boogie-woogie pianist who toured with bluesman Joe Liggins), sax-man Jimmy Jackson, sax-man King “The Pied Piper of Swingdom” Perry, Texas blues-shouter Smilin’ Smokey Lynn, Mabel Scott, blues singer Mickey Champion, Johnny Otis, Mel Walker, & Little Esther, and as shown here, two pix of Jordan and his band.