Katrina brings Kidd Jordan to city for benefit


They say in New Orleans that horn man Kidd Jordan has always remained faithful to the sounds in his soul.

Jordan has played his tenor saxophone with everyone from Aretha Franklin to New Orleans piano legend Professor Longhair to Perry Como to the jazz explorations of the World Saxophone Quartet to the Sun Ra Arkestra.

But for decades the sounds in his soul have been summoned forth by what he calls creative improvisational music. He's played everything from be-bop to hip-hop, but when he's playing from the deepest chambers of his heart he wants to start someplace fresh and new on every piece.

Hurricane Katrina washed Jordan out of the New Orleans home he and his family lived in for 30 years or more. So he's been on the road with the deeply personal jazz he plays on his tenor. He'll perform in a trio Saturday at An Die Musik. The appearance will benefit the Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp and the New Orleans Musicians Clinic.

Jordan has lived, worked and taught in New Orleans most of his life, but his free improvisational sound might be heard more often on the downtown jazz scene in Manhattan than on Bourbon Street in his hometown. Or maybe in France, Germany or Austria, where like many jazz musicians, he is perhaps better known than he is in America. France has named him a Chevalier des Artes et des Lettres, a cultural award also given to such worthies as William Faulkner, James Joyce, Oscar Peterson and Meryl Streep.

He'll play here with Joel Futterman, a piano player who left New York City for Virginia Beach, Va., and Alvin Fielder, a Mississippi drummer who helped launch the jazz-focused Association for Advancement of Creative Music in Chicago.

"Alvin Fielder, I've been playing with him about 25 years down here in New Orleans," Jordan says. The list of people Fielder has played with reads like an unabridged edition of the Encyclopedia of Jazz.

Jordan met Futterman at a recording session in Upper Marlboro.

"The first time we played together I knew we were soulmates," Jordan says. "[We hit it] off right at the moment he started playing. We lit into one another and it's been going ever since. It was like magic."

With the trio, he might start improvising on a chord or even just a handful of notes.

"That's right, then keep meandering and going on and on," says Jordan, 70. "And as you play something and somebody else plays something, you start making a tonal center. Like gravity. You can go out, like going to the stratosphere and coming back. That's a way of holding together."

He and his wife, Edvidge, a classical pianist, fled Katrina to Baton Rouge, where they stayed with his sister and brother-in-law until last week when they moved into their own apartment. He'd taught about 35 years at Southern University in New Orleans where he started the jazz studies program. Since Katrina submerged the New Orleans campus he's been teaching at the university's Baton Rouge branch.

Incidentally, his name is Edward. He got "Kid" when he was about 15 playing with older musicians. He's said he added the second D to distinguish "me from a goat."


If you go

Kidd Jordan Trio will play in a New Orleans Benefit Concert, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday at An Die Musik, 409 N. Charles St. $20 donation. 410-385-2638.

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