Louis Jordan's music is always fun. Although often thought of as early R&B, much of Jordan's music is really small-group swing, leading the way toward jump jazz and ultimately rock & roll. Jordan had dozens of hits during the 1940s, some of which are heard on this Jazz Unlimited release. Except for possibly the 1945 version of "Caldonia," all of the music was formerly put out by the British Swing House label on LPs. Taken from a slightly later period than usual (all but two numbers are from 1948-1949), the performances originated as radio broadcasts. Jordan's style had not changed much from 1942 except that a few selections from 1949 add a guitar to the group and his tenor player (either Eddie Johnson or Josh Jackson) was hinting strongly at both R&B and Ben Webster by the late '40s. In addition to the familiar pieces, it is fun to hear the occasional instrumentals (particularly "The Drippy Drippers" and "Broke But Happy," which are really cookers) and a few songs that were not necessarily associated with the Tympany Five, such as a sentimental version of "Danny Boy," "On the Sunny Side of the Street," and "Don't Worry 'Bout Me." There are a couple vocals by Peggy Thomas and Bixie Crawford for variety, trumpeter Aaron Izenhall (excellent on "Broke But Happy") proves to be a fine swing-to-bop stylist, and there are no real slow moments during these programs. Jordan, whether on alto or as a singer/personality, really knew how to entertain an audience. Listeners not already owning the Swing House LPs will definitely want this infectious collection.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow