Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

March 16, 2010 at 3:39pm

Memorial show for Robbie Jordan

Robbie Jordan, left, is seen here playing in the Lloyd Jones Struggle.Photo courtesy of robbiejordan.com

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ROBBIE JORDAN RIP >>>

This past Saturday sax man Robbie Jordan was found dead in his car.  While the cause is still a mystery, it is still a big blow to blues fans in the Northwest and beyond.

I first met Jordan in the early 1980s. At the time he was blowing sax with the Dick Powell Band alongside the late Rich Dangle of The Fabulous Wailers. It was through my connection to Jordan that piqued the interest of my father, guitarist Little Bill. Only a few weeks after they met, the duo - along with drummer Tommy Morgan, B3 virtuoso Buck England, Dangle and newcomer trombonist Randy Oxford — were in the studio recording a demo. Jordan's arrangements, coupled with my dad's songwriting, helped give the band - the Bluenotes - instant success. It still remains my father's favorite version of the band.

The band took home countless Washington Blues Society BB Awards, and played an average of 150 gigs a year.

Unfortunately, tensions between my father and Jordan escalated to the point of separation. 

After leaving the Bluenotes, Jordan played with many artist such as Dr. John, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Delbert McClinton, Mary Wilson and the Supremes, Lloyd Jones Struggle, Kathi McDonald and Patti Allen, just to name a few.

The last time I saw Jordan was March 30, 2008 when he performed "Into the Mystic" with Oxford, Brian Kent, Billy Stapleton, Dick Powell and my dad before launching into "Night Train" at my wedding. It was truly one of the highlights of my life.

Jordan made an indelible mark on the Northwest blues scene.  While he wasn't a schooled musician, he played with an unrivaled passion, which will be missed by all who knew him.

A memorial is scheduled for Sunday at the Highway 99 Blues Club in Seattle. 

[Highway 99 Blues Club, Sunday, March 21, 6-10 p.m., 21+, $10 suggested donation, 1414 Alaskan Way, Seattle, 206.382.2171]

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Comments for "Memorial show for Robbie Jordan" (16)

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MJ Gahagan said on Mar. 16, 2010 at 8:25pm

I was privileged to have met Robbie Jordan at a 2009 private holiday jam a few months ago. My husband played bass with him, what a thrill! He is the real deal.

I was surprised about your comment at the end of your article that referred to his training. The following quote is from his website:
Saxophonist/flutist/clarinetist and composer/arranger Robbie Jordan's story begins in Boise, Idaho. He studied classical clarinet with James Hopper at Boise State University and later joined him in the clarinet section of the Boise Philharmonic. Robbie also studied jazz theory with Gary Peacock.

Regards,
Daughter of another woodwinds' artist

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Bob Strickland said on Mar. 17, 2010 at 7:33am

I met Robbie about 5 years ago, He and Zane Rudolph were playing a casual at the Horseshoe in Everett; they asked me to sit in on trumpet. I declined that time and a couple of times more, as I did not have my horn with me. I did see Robbie bring his class of eager jazz juniors to the Everett Library for a performance. The kids were wonderful, and it was easy to see the great work that he did for them. They were enthusiastic, brimming with confidence and advanced jazz ideas. They played out, just as he always did. Last year, at the invitation of a mutual friend, I did sit in three times with Robbie and his fine musicians at the Prohibition Grille in Everett and the Royal Thai in Monroe. It was a bit loud for me, but again, his students performed well. He just prepared them motivated them to play out; it was a beautiful thing to see. I learned of Robbie's passing from one of my band members, Brian Kent; it saddened all of us. We knew of his problems and were pulling for him to make it. I am sorry that he could not. Blessings to the loved ones of this fine musician; he is finally at peace.

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Mick Watson said on Mar. 17, 2010 at 9:17am

Thank you for this story. I am a 53 year old student and friend of Robbie's. This is a terrible loss for so many of us in the community. Robbie loved all of his students of all ages, and his enthusiasm for making music is so infectuous that it was impossible to walk away from his presence without wanting to go practice or play somewhere.

He was incredibly generous as well. One of my last times playing with him was at a Christmas performance at a nursing home for brain-injury victims. Of course they loved him. We all do. I miss his guidance and friendship and will for a long, long time.

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Carol Jensen said on Mar. 17, 2010 at 11:59am

Our son Jamie studied with Robbie for almost 8 years - from grade school in Marysville through high school in Stanwood - and played with several of the student groups that Robbie worked with over those years. He gave a lot to those kids and helped them develop a love of jazz and a confidence to try new things. It was a joy to hear Robbie play as well. I will never forget how he played "When the Saints Go Marching In" at the end of my mother's funeral (in a Lutheran church no less). On the 3rd verse he took it up into the stratosphere. With all his problems, we will remember him as one of the saints and will think of him now jamming with some of the jazz greats who have also passed on.

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Tony Engelhart said on Mar. 17, 2010 at 4:32pm

MJ, I meant no disrespect to Robbie's education and perhaps "schooled" was the wrong word. My point was simply, his playing came from the heart.

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Shelley said on Mar. 18, 2010 at 3:30pm

Everett Youth Jazz are Robbie's proteges', He has several students from this group who are pursuing an education in music. From Berklee College of Music in Boston to our local Central WA Univ.
One of the trumpet players from EYJ has performed with the Natl Collegiate Wind Ensemble. The first time she was a high school junior. The second time a high school senior, the next year an invitation w/o audition to participate, but the funds weren't there. Coming up this May 2010 she scraped together the funds to go again as a college student. Each time an audition tape had to be sent to be selected and then audition for chair position with a member of the NY Symphony. It was Robbie's influence that brings his students to a comfort level to see how high they can go with their music. Be it their sound or being brave enough to just put it all out there and go for it.
Robbie's contagious enthusiasm for the love of playing music was his signature.
I hope his children and the mother of his children who shared him with the world, will find peace and comfort.

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Tommy Prigmore said on Mar. 18, 2010 at 7:30pm

My heart is sad to hear of the passing of Robbie...he and I performed together in the Seattle Central Community College production of West Side Story back in 1994. Great musician and an even better human being...the world is less with his passing.

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Jeffrey Beals said on Mar. 19, 2010 at 10:00pm

When Jr. Cadillac was asked by the White House to perform for then President Bill Clinton at the Paramount Theater for one of his three "Saxophone Club" fund raisers
in 1996, it was quickly decided to invite ROBBIE to join us, along with Steve Berlin, of Los Lobos who graciously accepted, to play baritone sax along with Les Clinkingbeard and me in the section.
Robbie gave a stunning performance that night, and I will never forget the look on his face when President Clinton shook his hand, and spoke with Robbie, while pictures were taken. It was a memory of a lifetime for all of us, and I know, for Robbie.
We all miss him, and his contribution to our industry and his immense talent will not
be forgotten. That night is how I choose to remember him........

Jeffrey Beals, Baritone Sax,
Jr. Cadillac

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Rick Scriven said on Mar. 22, 2010 at 1:08pm

Robbie and I go back about 7 years. I know this because he came to my daughter's wedding as a guest of our keyboard player in December, 2002. We played together for the first time then and then again for perhaps a dozen gigs since, the last of which was, I believe, last December.
The most compelling comment have to say about Robbie is that even though the quality of his musicianship far exceeded mine, particularly in the area of jazz, he ALWAYS treated me as an equal. I will always remember, appreciate and love him for that. Thanks Robbie. We all missed you at the gig last night!

Rick Scriven, guitar
Rick Allen Blues Band

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Rowan DeSantis said on Mar. 22, 2010 at 11:30pm

I met Robbie Jordan last April at the annual Paul deLay Memorial Concert fundraiser. He was a hoot to hang around with. We always laughed and joked and everyone enjoyed the idiomatic logic that went on in his head! He had a passion for life and a wit to match. Robbie was a fabulous horn player and I always looked forward to him bringing his axe to Portland Oregon to play with Lloyd Jones Band. He would show up at other peoples jams and gigs when he was in town as well and play his heart out for the fun of it. I and many other Portlander's will really miss him. What a sad day today is for me to hear the tragic news that I heard in passing last weekend, confirmed. My deepest sympathy goes out to his friends and family.

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David Zarn said on Mar. 28, 2010 at 9:47pm

My son Justin and I studied with Robbie beginning about 6 or 7 years ago. He definitely had that inspirational knack for teaching music that a coupla' my childhood music teachers could've used! While Justin eventually dropped clarinet to take up the guitar, he still wanted to see Robbie at a gig (which, thankfully, we were able to do), and I credit Robbie for the initial spark that still inspires him to practice. We wanted to see him this past New Years' Eve as we had the year before, but he played a 21+ club in Vancouver...
It is hard to believe and sad that he's gone. We'll miss him.
My condolences to his family and his many good friends.

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Jeff Grothe said on Mar. 29, 2010 at 10:40pm

I am stunned at the news of Robbie's passing. Some of my best memories of playing music involve Robbie, (with a couple other horn players) a B-3 and a strong rhythm section. I would close my eyes and stop playing my guitar to just listen to the fat sound of Robbie's arrangements. It was magic. Rest in peace my friend.

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Steve Swanson said on Apr. 02, 2010 at 9:50pm

1981 I met Robbie and we hit it off like oil and water. Little did I know we would become best friends. We were both strong-headed musicians with each of us testing each other. I had just left the Buddy Rich Band and was full of...well Buddy Rich ego. In the 80's we played together often. Freddy Pink, Paramount Orchestra, Mark Lindsay, Johnny Rusk, Reps, and many more recording dates, crazy parties etc...I invited robbie, Kathy #1 and then baby Katie to our West Seattle apartment on Beach Drive for a barbeque around 1982. My then spouse Jan and I quickly became great friends with "the Jordans". We have WAY too many stories of our "escapades". I still speak of Robbie in the present tense because it is a hard one for me to swallow. I spoke with him the day before and I knew what obstacles he had ahead of him. He told me he learned about being a parent from his dog Moe. I remember Katie riding him like a Shetland pony. I will miss our late night phone calls and comedy. I was Chips he was Clip O'Neill. We lost two 12' boats and a motor on Hood Canal one crazy weekend getting crab and oysters. We put hotdogs in each others pockets at gigs. Put condoms on Johnny Rusk's mic before he came on stage. Wore rabbit skinned coats...that weren't ours and ruined them. I could write a book. The last time I saw him was New Year's Eve of 2009/2010, 4 months ago. He was coming back from Portland with a friend and I drove us to Denny's for breakfast. We listened to music and videos and then they left. He was a great personality with eyes that "danced". His enthusiasm and ability to charm was unparralled, men and women alike. I just called his cell phone out of curiosity and heard his voice...how tragic. I remember him saying to me that we will outlive everyone. I wish I could have granted him that wish for now my friend is gone, but the world is a bit more quiet and a tiny bit less joy in it for me. Be Blessed Robbie and put hotdogs in the pockets of the musicians in that great band in the sky.
Sincerely, Steve Swanson
(PS to Jeff Grothe...those were my arrangements!...bonehead)

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Deb said on Apr. 09, 2010 at 12:27am

Does anyone know where he is buried? Want to pay my repects privately. Thx. Ded

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Rebekah said on Jun. 07, 2010 at 9:25pm

I Knew Him Personally. Took Lessons.There To Be A Friend. Miss Him Dearly..

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Patricia said on Jul. 16, 2010 at 6:14pm

I am shocked and saddened. I was a student many years ago and while we didn't keep constant contact, I still considered him a friend. I have rarely met such a kind person and today my sun shines a little less brightly.

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