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Stanley Jordan: Friends (2011)

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Stanley Jordan: Friends How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

In a successful career of over 25 years, guitarist Stanley Jordan has always displayed his versatility—equally adept at blues, straight-ahead jazz and ever inventive with classical masterpieces. His virtuosity and improvisational prowess are a given, and on Friends, he also shows his skill on piano on two numbers. Primarily, he brings in old pals from various backgrounds and delivers terrific arrangements, ranging across the jazz spectrum, mixing in originals with swing, post bop, samba, blues, pop and a couple from Bartók and Chopin. Jordan makes roughly two appearances with each main guest, with all the pairings in different styles; all are great.

The opener, Jordan's "Circle J," features impressive solos by Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett
b.1960
sax, alto
on soprano sax and Nicholas Payton
Nicholas Payton
Nicholas Payton
b.1973
trumpet
on trumpet. Jordan shines, comping behind the two. The horns appear again in another Jordan original, "Bathed in Light." It starts with a mellow blend from Garrett and Payton, who then contribute solos. Jordan follows suit, gently accentuating the romantic, meditative mood.

A real treat comes when he pairs up with guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli
Bucky Pizzarelli
Bucky Pizzarelli
b.1926
guitar
on Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
1922 - 2008
trumpet
's Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
classic, "Li'l Darlin,'" hearkening back several decades with this honey-coated ballad. The two then go back even further to the swing era, coming up with Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian
1916 - 1942
guitar, electric
's "Seven come Eleven," made famous by Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
as a showcase for the guitarist and also featuring peerless guitarist Russell Malone
Russell Malone
Russell Malone
b.1963
guitar, electric
. Pizzarelli has a rousing solo, followed by a hip, three-way guitar duel at the song's end.

Things go in a different direction with violinist Regina Carter
Regina Carter
Regina Carter
b.1966
violin
onboard, as Jordan explores Bartók's "Concerto for Orchestra" in a sensitive, shimmering, hauntingly beautiful arrangement. On Jordan's "Samba Delight," Carter follows Ronnie Laws
Ronnie Laws
Ronnie Laws
b.1950
saxophone
on soprano, interjecting a tropical touch with her violin.

For Jordan's "Walkin' the Dog," guitarist Charlie Hunter
Charlie Hunter
Charlie Hunter

guitar, 8-string
appears and the two guitarists become like peas in a pod, picked from B.B. King
B.B. King
B.B. King
b.1925
guitar, electric
's field. They mesh beautifully again in Jordan's reworking of Katy Perry's pop tune "I Kissed A Girl," giving it a delightfully bluesy.

In a press release, Jordan says that this collection truly speaks to his belief that ..."when you integrate styles, you combine them into something new while still remaining true to the original sources." His best argument is this recording.

Track Listing: Capital J; Walkin' the Dog; Lil' Darlin'; Giant Steps; I Kissed A Girl; Seven Come Eleven; Samba Delight; Bathed in Light; Romantic Intermezzo From Bartok's Concerto For Orchestra; Reverie; One For Milton.

Personnel: Stanley Jordan: guitar, piano (5, 9); Bucky Pizzarelli: guitar (3, 6); Mike Stern: guitar (4); Russell Malone: guitar (6, 11); Charlie Hunter: guitar (2, 5); Regina Carter: violin (7, 9); Kenny Garrett: soprano sax (1, 8); Ronnie Laws: soprano sax (7); Nicholas Payton: trumpet (1, 8); Christian McBride: bass (1, 8); Charnett Moffett: bass (5, 6, 10); Kenwood Dennard: drums (1-8, 10, 11).

Record Label: Mack Avenue Records

Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


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