Funeral services for James Jordan, the retired, former Director of Music Programs for the New York State Council on the Arts, will be held on Tuesday, December 18th at 11 a.m. EST at Benta's Funeral Home in Harlem. Benta's is located at 630 St. Nicholas Avenue. Visitation begins at 10:30 a.m.
Statement from Denardo Coleman
To all of our friends we are sad to relay the news that Ornette’s cousin and long time manager, James Jordan has passed away at the age of 87.
James and Ornette were inseparable virtually growing up as brothers in Fort Worth Texas. Both played in the Mother AME Church band as well as the IM Terrel high school band. James on tenor sax.
James played professionally in big bands for Big Joe Turner, BB King and others.
James then went on to begin a successful career working as a music educator in Columbus, Texas, and as a member of a popular jazz band in Austin. He later became a community activist in the war on poverty, and served as Executive Director of the Human Opportunities Corporation in Travis County.
In the late 1960s Ornette asked James to join him in New York as his manager. They went on to accomplish many milestones including mounting Ornette’s historic symphonic work Skies of America. The belief and support that Ornette could compose such a work was not there. With that, James managed to secure advances for 2 jazz combo recordings from Columbia Records. Unbeknownst to the company he and Ornette flew off to England where they hired the London Symphony Orchestra. There they recorded what was to be one of Ornette’s seminal albums, Skies of America, James Jordan producer.
Subsequently James Jordan’s unique qualifications came to the attention of the New York State Council on the Arts. James was asked to become the Director of the State Council's Music Program. He would be with the Council for 29 years, retiring in 2005.
The NYS Council for the Arts serviced all of the state’s arts institutions from the Metropolitan Opera to the AACM NY Concert Series. With James as director countless small creative arts organizations knew they had a champion in the State House. Someone who truly understood how important it was to support the independent artist.
As a leading figure in Jazz related work, James was the founding secretary of the board for the creation of the National Jazz Service Organization.
He also served as Chairperson of the Policy Panel for Jazz as well as for the Grants Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts
After retirement James, rejoined Ornette as his personal manger. They went on to tour the world for the next several years. Including performances of Skies of America in Europe.
James Jordan--another one of Fort Worth’s giants.
(Photo by Enid Farber, James Jordan Accepting Jazz Journalist’s Association 2010 A Team Award)