The Troy Street Observer

April 2, 1943: Louis Jordan at the Ritz Plaza

Photo of Louis Jordan
Louis Jordan publicity shot

Louis Jordan played a one-nighter at the Ritz Plaza on April 2, 1943, his first appearance in Boston as a bandleader.

For most of its 26 years (1932 to 1958), the Ritz Plaza’s Crystal Ballroom, at 218 Huntington Ave, was a hall for rent, and every social club and organization that sponsored a dance or benefit used it. On occasion, a promoter rented it for a show or concert, and one of those brought singer and saxophonist Louis Jordan to Boston as a bandleader for the first time. Jordan’s music exemplified a distinctive style of small-group swing called jump, a dance-oriented blend of jazz and blues that was marked by saxophone solos, clever song lyrics, and strong rhythm sections. It reached its peak in the late 1940s, and laid the foundation for R&B.

Newspaper advertisements for the Jordan show did not state if the band was his own  Tympany Five or a local group. If it was the Tympany Five at the Ritz Plaza, the band included trumpeter Eddie Roane, who grew up in nearby Springfield. If he was working as a single with local men, one surely would have been bassist Al Morgan, then with Sabby Lewis. Morgan, in fact, left the Lewis group to join Jordan from about March 1944 to January 1945.

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