Clifford Jordan

Tenor Saxophone
September 2, 1931 -- March 27, 1993

Clifford Jordan

Clifford Jordan

"Clifford Jordan plays with an imaginative, vital conception that is consistently effective and meaningful. He stands, right now, as one of the most important tenor saxophonists in modern jazz."

--Robert Levin

Clifford Jordan was born in Chicago in 1931 and began his musical studies on the piano at an early age. "It was kind of a forced deal--my mother wanted me to play." He picked up the tenor when he was fourteen because it was "the hip thing to be playing horn" in his neighborhood at the time.

He says Lester Young was his first big influence but maintains that he liked and listened to everyone. Once he had achieved a working knowledge of his tenor, Cliff began playing around town with some of his DuSable High classmates; Johnny Griffin, John Gilmore and John Jenkins.

His first professional gig was with Max Roach and was followed by jobs with Sonny Stitt and various rhythm-and-blues bands. He left Chicago to replace Sonny Rollins in the Max Roach quintet and then switched places with Hank Mobley to go with Horace Silver's unit where he has since remained.

--ROBERT LEVIN, from the liner notes,
Cliff Craft, Blue Note.

Although Cliff had been playing tenor sax since the age of 13, he arrived in New York at the age of twenty-six, in 1957, with absolutely no professional experience. But he had, as he puts it, "played the blues in Chicago with anyone who'd play with me." And he impressed Max Roach sufficiently so that his first job was as Sonny Rollins' replacement with the Roach group at the Cafe Bohemia.

Right there, Jordan ran into the biggest single headache for the young musician: he does have a Rollins-like sound. Sonny, he notes, "inspired, but not influenced" him, and replacing Rollins as he did led far too many people to shrug him off as just another kid trying to copy the then most-prevalent new tenor influence.

In due course, Jordan moved on to jobs with Horace Silver, and then J.J. Johnson. These are certainly astute and careful leaders: if they hire you, it's pretty unlikely that you are less than very good.

--ORRIN KEEPNEWS, from the liner notes,
Spellbound, Riverside.

A selected discography of Clifford Jordan albums.

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