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Stanley Jordan at Catalina Jazz Club, Hollywood, CA

Dee Dee McNeil By

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Stanley Jordan is an example of what happens to an artist when technique and spirit meet.
Stanley Jordan Trio
Catalina Jazz Club
Hollywood, California
May 22, 2008

On this night Stanley Jordan mesmerized the audience with his unique, spellbinding guitar mastery. Using chords that were dissonant yet stunningly beautiful, he dangled the first tune's introduction before his audience like a hypnotist's pocket watch. We tried to guess what song was coming, our eyes glued to his fingers. Then suddenly we recognized Miles Davis' "All Blues," powerfully played by the trio with gusto and excitement.

Midway through the number, Jordan walked across the stage, sat down at the grand piano and began playing both instruments simultaneously. Complemented by his left hand on guitar, Jordan's right hand soloed on piano. After a decidedly accomplished piano solo, he switched hands, using the left to comp with chords on the keyboard, while his right hand now solo-danced across the guitar strings. As the trio maintained the brisk pace Jordan, sounding like a trio of musicians himself, continued to execute expertly on both instruments. So that's how the first set began, and it just kept getting better.

Bassist Charnett Moffet played with fancy finger work, solid energy, and even pulled out his bow to make his upright bass sing unforgettable solos.

Jordan was showcasing songs from his latest CD release, State of Nature. This album title had an odd and paradoxical profundity tonight in Los Angeles where two unpredicted tornadoes touched down on the crowded 215 California freeway.

Next, Jordan introduced a classical piece, Mozart's Piano Concerto #21, explaining it was a celebration of humanity's greatness. He told the attentive audience that this "andante, slow movement" was to "remind us all, we are creations of nature, connected and not separate," before calling upon his technical brilliance to illustrate the point.

Following this piece, came Horace Silver's "Song For My Father," on which the trio's arrangement galloped into the room, with bass and drums constructing a funky foundation for Jordan to build upon. Once again, Jordan used his multi-talents to play guitar and piano simultaneously, some audience members leaving their seats to stand against the wall and get a better view of this amazing feat.

"Forest Garden," Jordan next explained, "was a song based on a six-note scale. However," he cautioned, "it didn't have a 6th degree because the 6th might take over." This peaked our interest. "We're in C and the 6th would be A. So if we went there (to the A), the key would become A minor instead of staying rooted in C. This represents the consciousness before the arrival of human beings on earth," added Jordan. "Going to A and A flat represented havoc within the environment created by humans, who brought pain and destruction to our Eco System." As he spoke, he demonstrated by playing the song based on the six-tone scale, once again captivating the listener with his creativity.

"Return Expedition" was an exploration in freedom, again showcasing Jordan's technique, yet completely unique. His fingers pulled, plucked, caressed and slapped his guitar into submission. Both hands moved up and down its neck with speed, agility and precision. Drummer Kenwood Dennard's magnificent talent was also featured on the song, with a long, yet engaging solo on percussion. Next came the lovely ballad that has become a jazz standard, "My One and Only Love," featuring solo guitar.

Stanley Jordan is an example of what happens to an artist when technique and spirit meet. After the set, the Jordan Trio received a sustained ovation encouraging their return to the stage. Amidst the hoots of joy from the audience, the extraordinary musicians offered Jordan's former commercial hit of Michael Jackson's "The Lady in My Life" as an encore.


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Scott Mitchell


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