Memorial show for Robbie Jordan

By Tony Engelhart on March 16, 2010


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]