Guitar wizard and jazz star Stanley Jordan is a rare breed. Not just a fancy two-handed finger-tapping fretboard shredder, he’s an incredibly versatile musician and arranger with a degree in music theory and composition from Princeton University. To call him a virtuoso of the guitar is one thing, but Jordan takes the art of performing to a level that one hardly ever sees, particularly on his latest DVD Stanley Jordan Trio - New Morning: The Paris Concert (Inakustik).
Jordan, with longtime stand-up bassist Charnett Moffett and drummer David Haynes delivered a 105-minute show in an intimate setting at the New Morning Jazz Club in Paris, France in July of 2007. It was a 12-song setlist that featured many long compositions, some of which he authored but most of which were covers of iconic artists you’ve probably heard at some point in your life, including The Beatles, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Mozart. And the main guitar Jordan used, the Vigier Arpege, was coincidentally, made by the French company Vigier Guitars.
At various points during the show, you see Jordan do something very challenging and sophisticated — from a musician’s point-of-view — that will blow your mind: using the left hand, he will play various rhythmic, jazzy chords on guitar, while simultaneously putting his right hand to work on a piano to play constantly evolving chords and soloing sections. Making impressive records in this fashion is one thing — which he did in the much of the 1980s and occasionally in the ‘90s — but seeing how a man like Stanley Jordan pulls this off live is truly the best way to enjoy his music. And for the most part, this reviewer did enjoy the Stanley Jordan Trio’s show, via the DVD.
The concert began with Jordan performing a majestic and elegant solo cover of the Paul McCartney-penned classic “Yesterday.” This veteran of the jazz circuit is known, of course, for his highly praised reworking of classic rock staples, such as The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” on his breakthrough Blue Note album, 1985’s Magic Touch, a release that earned Jordan a Best New Artist nomination at the Grammys.
“A Place In Space,” from Stanley J’s latest studio output State of Nature followed, and though the French audience dug parts of this upbeat, be-bopping number that included all three musicians, it seemed directionless toward the middle of the song. Not his strongest composition.