Thursday, April 14, 2011

Magic Touch - Stanley Jordan

Magic Touch
Stanley Jordan
Blue Note BT 85101

The other day I saw a "Clapton is God" t-shirt and snorted to myself derisively and thought about Stanley Jordan.  Jordan is one of the most amazing guitarists I've ever heard.  When I first heard this record I could not believe that Jordan wasn't double-tracking his parts, it didn't seem possible that anyone could produce so many notes with one guitar.  Instead of the conventional guitar technique of fingering chords or notes with one hand while strumming or plucking with the other, Jordan plays with both hands hammering the strings with his fingers, in essence playing his guitar like a keyboard.  The results are astonishing, a cascade of notes flows from his instrument, a one-man wall of sound.  His epic cover of "Eleanor Rigby" is my favorite version of that McCartney chestnut and not just because it has no words.  Jordan's playing opens up one of the stuffiest of Beatles songs and transforms it into a true magical mystery tour.  He actually makes it rock without betraying the original melody or feel of the song.  His cover of "Freddie Freeloader" by Miles Davis demonstrates that he can do the jazz thing equally well, it really swings and shows he can bebop with the best of them.  His version of "Round Midnight" is less traditional and features some of his most virtuosic playing.  There is some fine playing as well on his cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Angel" but I've never heard a Hendrix cover that is better than the original and this is no exception.  Jordan has the technique but he can't match Hendrix's passion or imagination.  Jordan has mastered the guitar but Hendrix pushed it where it had never gone before.  I miss the distortion, the roar and the fire.  I don't care much either for the Michael Jackson cover "The Lady In My Life" which sounds very 1980s.  It is tasteful light funk sort of like George Benson, it was bad enough when MJ did it, this sounds like something you'd hear in a cocktail lounge.  Jordan plays great but it still puts me to sleep.  Jordan's own compositions aren't very memorable but the aptly titled "Fundance" and "Return Expedition" do offer plenty of opportunities for Jordan to show his skill and the latter tune features some really striking instrumental passages.  You don't have to be a jazzbo to dig this record.  If you have any interest in virtuoso guitar playing be it Eddie Van Halen or Wes Montgomery, Jordan will entertain you.  Recommended for Jeff Beck fans who wish he played faster. 

No comments:

Post a Comment