Sometime in the early 1980s, I met with Berle Adams at his office in Hollywood. A former vice-president with MCA, Berle had managed Louis Jordan in the 1940s and 1950s. I came to interview him about his work with Jordan and the talk turned to the short subject Caldonia.
I knew that Jordan’s music would appeal to everyone, white and black listeners alike. But how to advertise a personal appearance? Well, why not a film that would let everyone know what an evening with Louis would be like? We would make the film, and then arrange screenings a week or two in advance of Louis’s appearance in town. People
would see the film, there would be a huge amount of talk, and the tickets to the dance would sell like crazy.
Caldonia was produced in late 1944 and was released the following year. However, concurrent with its use as an advertising tool, four of the musical numbers were excised from the short and released as Soundies. (An article on Caldonia can be found on my website. It is currently under revision but will certainly work for now: https://www.jazz-on-film.com/louis-jordan-and-caldonia/)
Louis Jordan was not only a consummate entertainer but also a superior vocalist and instrumentalist. Over the years there was turnover in Louis Jordan’s Tympany Five personnel. Most of the personnel in this group, however, had been with Jordan for almost a year, hence the cohesion in the music. Eddie Roane was a fine trumpet player, highly attuned to the blues and especially adept with the mute. The rhythm section was anchored by veteran string bassist Al Morgan and drummer “Razz” Mitchell. Only piano player William Austin was somewhat out of his league, although he does no harm.
“Buzz Me” is a blues credited to record producer Dave Dexter and “Fleecie” Moore, Jordan’s wife. In actuality, this is Louis Jordan’s composition. I suspect that Dexter’s contribution is minor at best, and Moore often got composer credit for songs written by her husband. I would call your attention to Jordan’s solo, melodic and blues-drenched, and just perfect for this song.
If you like this Soundie, give it a thumbs up, or pick up the cell phone and just buzz me.