Jazz saxophonist and music teacher Edward “Kidd” Jordan died in his sleep Friday, surrounded by family at his New Orleans home, family publicist Vincent Sylvain said.
He was 87.
During his 50-year career, Jordan showcased his musical talents across New Orleans while also collaborating with music legends like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and more.
Born in Crowley in 1935, Jordan moved to New Orleans at 20 years old and created “The Improvisation Arts Quintet” in 1975. The group produced a diverse catalogue of avant-garde music described as “an evolution of complimentary imagery moving together and apart, each artist becoming an ear, an eye and most of all a heart for the sake of the creative spiritual soul.”
He was a music professor at Southern University of New Orleans, later becoming chairman of the university's Jazz Studies Program.
During his 34 years at SUNO, “he shared his vision of improvisation and encouraged students to find their authentic creative voices,” Sylvain said. “Mr. Jordan’s legacy is solidified by his insistence that his students’ music contain one critical element — originality. And he practices what he preaches.”
Jordan also was an instructor at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation’s School of Music for 25 years and served as Artistic Director for the Louis Armstrong Satchmo Jazz Camp. He retired in 2006.
“Kidd dedicated his life to teaching youngsters of all ages. His passing is the end of an era of music education in New Orleans,” said Jackie Harris, executive director of the Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Educational Foundation.
“His spirit and determination was a shining example that gave musicians the confidence to express themselves with ‘No Compromise,’” said Harris, referencing Jordan's first record “No Compromise.”
Prominent former students include Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Jon Batiste, Donald Harrison Jr., Tony Dagradi, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and “Big” Sam Williams.
Jordan also taught his seven children Edward Jr., Kent, Christie, Paul, Stephanie, Rachel and Marlon. Four of them became professional musicians: Kent on flute, Stephanie as a singer, Rachel as a classical violinist and Marlon on trumpet.
The French Ministry of Culture in 1985 anointed him a knight, or chevalier, of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, a prestigious award given to those who have produced exceptional work in arts or literature. Jordan also received a Lifetime Achievement Honoree recognition at the Vision Festival XIII in New York in 2008, and was named a “jazz hero” by the Jazz Journalist Association in 2013.
In addition to his children, Jordan is survived by his wife, Edvidge Chatters Jordan.
Funeral arrangements are pending.