Clifford Jordan was born in Chicago in 1931. A self-taught musician, his love of jazz had him performing in his home town until the late 1950's, when he moved to New York. His first album was appropriately titled Blowing in from Chicago, and Horace Silver and Art Blakey.
In the 60's, his range broadened, as he played with Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Kenny Dorham, Lloyd Price, and James Brown. He toured Europe as a soloist and conducted his own music for radio and studio orchestras in 1966. A year later, he was toured West Africa and the Middle East for the U.S. State Department with Randy Weston. 1968 saw Cliff forming Frontier Records, through which he produced albums for Wilbur Ware, Pharoah Sanders, Cecil Payne, Charles Brackeen, Ed Blackwell and their groups.