Bebop pianist Duke Jordan, 84, dies
Date: August 14, 2006
Written By: Roxana Hadadi

Bebop pianist Duke Jordan died Tuesday in Valby, Denmark, a small suburb of Copenhagen where he had lived since 1978. Jordan was 84.

Jordan was known for his work with Charlie Parker in 1947 and 1948, when the two recorded for the Dial and Savoy labels. The pair also performed and recorded with trumpeter Miles Davis and drummer Max Roach, making classic recordings like “Embraceable You,” “Crazeology” and “Scrapple from the Apple.”

Irving Sidney Jordan was born April 1, 1922 in New York. Soon after adolescence, Jordan was playing piano in big bands such as the Savoy Sultans, the Savoy Ballroom’s house orchestra. In 1952—a time when segregation was law in the United States and interracial marriages were unprecedented—Jordan married white jazz singer Sheila Jordan. The couple divorced some years later.

After recording with Parker, Jordan also worked with saxophonists like Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Stitt and led his own quartet. Jordan also created his own share of jazz classics—such as “Jor-du”—and contributed compositions to the soundtrack of the 1959 film Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

By the mid-1960s, Jordan had developed a heroin habit, but rehabilitated himself in the 1970s and re-started his music career in Copenhagen, leading trios and quartets. Jordan continued to perform at jazz concerts and festivals and also recorded more than 30 albums for SteepleChase Records.

Survivors include Sheila Jordan and their daughter, Traci.

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