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Jazz - Released September 27, 2011 | Mack Avenue Records

Guitarist Stanley Jordan's innovative touch technique, often played in a solo setting at the beginning of his career in the mid-'80s, was a breath of fresh air. He has since been an explorer open to many styles, as heard on this collaboration with a number of different musicians. He is still very much a force as a soloist, yet not one to hog the spotlight with his formidable abilities. Jordan is joined by Kenny Garrett (on soprano sax), trumpeter Nicholas Payton, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Kenwood Dennard for his blazing post-bop anthem "Capital J." The same lineup is used for the mellow contemporary ballad "Bathed in Light" with Dennard overdubbing on keyboard; the robust solos and crisp ensemble work keep things from degrading into run-of-the-mill smooth jazz. Jordan collaborates with several different guitarists. Octogenarian Bucky Pizzarelli, a master of seven-string guitar who is equally capable playing lead and rhythm, is on hand for a gently swinging, bluesy "Lil' Darlin'," while Russell Malone joins the leader and Pizzarelli for an explosive take of "Seven Come Eleven" (a tune Pizzarelli doubtlessly played many times during his time with Benny Goodman). Mike Stern accompanies Jordan for a brisk workout of "Giant Steps," with Dennard sticking to soft brushwork. Guitarist Charlie Hunter is on hand for Jordan's funky "Walkin' the Dog" and Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl," the latter in which the leader plays piano with one hand and guitar with the other. Perhaps the most unusual track is an adaptation of the "Romantic Intermezzo" from Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, with Jordan playing piano (his first instrument) accompanied by the brilliant violinist Regina Carter, demonstrating Jordan's love for a good melody regardless of the style of music. Jazz fans who have lost track of Stanley Jordan since his early solo recordings will have their ears opened by this diverse, successful meeting with his many friends. ~ Ken Dryden

Jazz - Released January 1, 1985 | Blue Note Records

This debut record from Stanley Jordan features the guitarist's extraordinarily idiosyncratic tapping technique on a variety of material. Jordan's revolutionary approach to the instrument, consisting of striking the fretboard with both hands to sound notes, allows him access to musical possibilities that are simply out of the reach of other guitar players. It is in his hands that the guitar attains a level of self-accompaniment formerly held only by the piano. Fortunately, Jordan puts his prodigious chops to good use making good music. One area in particular in which he is terrifically talented is in the reinterpretation of modern pop material. His version of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," accompanied only by the subtle percussion of Sammy Figueroa, dismisses the British melancholy of the original for a light-as-air interpretation that brings out the playfulness in the melody. Also impressive is Jordan's cover of Michael Jackson's "The Lady in My Life," which the guitarist gives a smooth, sultry reading. On the flip side, Jordan also proves that he is not out of touch with the history of jazz, with delightful versions of "Freddie Freeloader," "'Round Midnight," and "A Child Is Born." The guitarist's sidemen, who include drummers Omar Hakim and Peter Erskine, are all seasoned professionals, and they play well, but no matter how good the group performances on Magic Touch are, they are no match for the shocking polyphony of Jordan's solo material. It is there that the record really comes alive. Jordan's later albums were not to capitalize on the promise shown on his debut, but in Magic Touch the guitarist had something truly special. An instant classic, and one of the definitive moments of modern jazz guitar. ~ Daniel Gioffre

Jazz - Released January 1, 1995 | Blue Note Records

Creatively, Stanley Jordan had more ups than downs during his years at Blue Note. Not everything he did for the label was great, but more often than not, the chances that he took paid off. Spanning 1985-1990, this collection draws on several albums and paints a generally impressive picture of the fusion/post-bop guitarist's Blue Note output. Four of the CD's 11 selections are Jordan originals -- including the lyrical "All the Children," the B.B. King-influenced "Still Got the Blues," and the playful "Jumpin' Jack" -- while the other seven underscore his talents as an interpreter of other composers' material. Jordan has always had eclectic taste in music -- he's far from a jazz snob -- and this album finds him interpreting everything from John Coltrane's "Impressions," Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia on my Mind," and Rodgers & Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things" to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," and the Michael Jackson smash "The Lady in My Life." Interpret is the key word here. At a time when many NAC artists were offering note-for-note pop covers and calling them jazz, Jordan was giving well-known rock and R&B hits serious jazz-fusion makeovers and bringing something personal and distinctive to them. For those who've never purchased one of Jordan's albums, The Best of Stanley Jordan would be a logical starting point. ~ Alex Henderson

Jazz - Released January 1, 1991 | Blue Note Records

This trio set with bassist Charnett Moffett and drummer Kenwood Dennard features the tapping guitarist Stanley Jordan during a typical live show from 1990 playing many songs that he had previously recorded. While "Stairway to Heaven" is treated as very credible rock and "Lady in My Life" gets funky, "Autumn Leaves" really cooks and Jordan fares well on "Stolen Moments" (during which he does a strong imitation of a keyboard) and "Impressions." Jordan's lone original, the rock-ish "Return Expedition" is, at 15 minutes, way too long and serves primarily as an opportunity for his two fine backup players to take lengthy solos. Jordan's unaccompanied display on the concluding "Over the Rainbow" compensates. An interesting program. ~ Scott Yanow

Jazz - Released September 26, 2015 | Groove


Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Blue Note Records

This concert was originally intended to be a video release showcasing Stanley Jordan in acoustic, electric and solo settings. His tight rhythm section -- including Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums, Kenny Kirkland on piano and Charnett Moffett on bass -- drives his complex and moving guitar playing through the standout acoustic tracks "Impressions" and "Cousin Mary," both by John Coltrane. But concert highlights are Jordan's two solo pieces, the bluesy "Willow Weep for Me" and classic show tune "Over the Rainbow," where he performs with an exhilarating freedom and virtuosity. Jordan resists the temptation to slip into the then-ubiquitous smooth jazz sound, making this a timeless release. ~ Ryan Randall Goble

Jazz - Released April 22, 2008 | Mack Avenue Records

State of Nature is the first studio offering by Stanley Jordan in over ten years; it also his debut for Detroit's fine Mack Avenue imprint. For those who have only heard the early Blue Note records or his live dates, this will be both welcome and a bit of a shock. Jordan has always been an ambitious artist. He took a long break from recording to study music therapy as well. His pioneering tap technique on the guitar changed the way it is used in jazz and popular music for many, and his holistic approach to music has delighted many and infuriated some purists. Oh well. The 14 tracks here are, as one might expect, all over the map, and so are his support musicians. There are some killer pieces from the jazz canon here, most notably in Horace Silver's "Song for my Father" and Miles Davis' "All Blues." These are likely to get notice because Jordan plays both guitar and piano on them simultaneously with no overdubbing. There will no doubt be some gnashing of teeth because Jordan's not as fine a pianist as Bill Evans or Silver. So what? These are fine renditions of these tunes, performed by a crack band featuring bassist Charnett Moffett and drummer David Haynes (who make up the core rhythm section on the majority of the disc). They swing, they groove, and they remain not only faithful but soulful as well. Haynes' cymbal work on the Silver tune is gorgeous, and Moffett's driving pulse of a bassline on the Davis tune is in the cut and very creative. As for the quality of Jordan's pianism? It works beautifully, and his guitar solos on both cuts add breadth and dimension to the originals. It's actually dazzling on "Song for My Father." These are but two of the many surprises to be found here. The reading of Tom Jobim's "Insensatez" with bassist Dudu Lima and drummer Ivan Conti evokes the sparseness of the original -- even with the multiple tonalities at work in Jordan's playing (many of them bluesy and rounded) combined with Lima's wildly creative, fretless bass playing -- and still manages to hold a drop-dead precise groove for the percussive invention that engages Jordan in his interaction with Conti. This is a beautiful if very unusual interpretation of the tune that probably adds more to its timeless appeal than any cover of it in recent memory. Jordan's own compositions have not suffered in his time away from recording; far from it. Check album opener "A Place in Space" with the Moffett and Haynes rhythm section. The colors on display here are rich, even lush, and if the tune didn't pop the way it does rhythmically or have its force of swing -- even in rather staccato interludes -- it might be a tad lush. But it moves and the breaks by Haynes, while never overstated (he's using brushes) are simply intoxicating. There are a number of brief "environmental" recordings here, as well, underscoring the artist's deep concern with the personal transformation of self and nature (yeah; green politics) but it's a spiritual type of politics, not a brow-beating one. "Ocean Breeze" was written with Jay Kishor, who also plays sitar in a large ensemble setting. The Jordan-Moffett-Haynes trio is embellished by keyboards (Giovanna Imbesi), a second bassist in Tommy Brown, and various hand percussion and tablas. While the track has a bit of a new-agey feel in the first couple of seconds, it quickly becomes something akin to what Oregon did in the early '70s but with an electric guitar. The melodic invention in this cut is simply amazing. Another remarkable moment is the exchange of solos between Jordan and Kishor, followed by Tammi Brown's understated, wordless vocals in the backdrop. The funky breaks played by Haynes in "Shadow Dance" are supplemented by hip drum loops added by Jordan. He takes his most rockist solo here (feels like a nod to Hendrix); it spirals out into space with pedal effects and some keyboard programming and overdubbed piano, and it's an excellent fusion track which has enough funk and soul in it to create a killer groove. The album closes with a beautiful version of Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out." A backing chorus of Tammi Brown and Julianne Jordan is accompanied by Jordan on electric piano, guitar, and loops, and the rhythm section of Moffett and Haynes. It swings and shimmers and stays deeply in the cut while letting its groove and dancefloor freak flag fly -- expect this one to be a hit on contemporary jazz stations even at almost six minutes. There is some additional recording at the end with environmental sounds, Meta Weiss' cello and Kishor's sitar fading in as the guitar solos and vocals fade out. In lesser hands this cut and perhaps an album this ambitious in scope would have been a mess. In Jordan's it is nothing short of a triumph of soul, spirit, and a seasoned jazz musician's acumen. ~ Thom Jurek

Lounge - Released May 18, 2015 | Nicolosiproductions - soul Trade


Jazz - Released November 1, 2013 | Nicolosiproductions - soul Trade


Jazz - Released March 18, 1994 | Arista

Lounge - Released May 18, 2015 | Nicolosiproductions - soul Trade

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