22

Stanley Jordan: Stanley Jordan: Standards Volume 1 – 1986

Marc Davis By

Sign in to view read count
Half of Magic Touch and half of Standards would make one outstanding, 5-star record.
Enter the album name hereIn my lust for Blue Note CDs, I've mostly focused on the label's classic period: the 1950s and '60s. That's where you'll find the very best hard bop and soul-jazz ever produced.

But nothing good lasts forever, and no particular musical style stays popular for long. As bop and soul faded, so did Blue Note. The label limped into the '70s, producing not much of interest. Finally, inevitably, the label died in the 1980s. It simply stopped producing new records.

But—surprise!—the funeral was short-lived. Blue Note sputtered back to life in the mid-'80s, searching for a new niche, and one of its most popular new artists was guitarist Stanley Jordan.

If you were a jazz fan in 1985, you probably bought the CD of Jordan's Magic Touch. It was a genuine phenomenon. Using an unusual two-handed technique, Jordan played the guitar like a piano—making it sound like two guitars. He was a freak of nature. He accompanied himself on one single instrument, and when it worked, it sounded great. The opening track, a frantic, bluesy, amazing rendition of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," was the undisputed highlight.

It was a shocking debut, but not perfect. "Freddie Freeloader" and "Round Midnight" were astonishing remakes of jazz classics. But the rest of the album was a mixed bag of gentle melodies and tunes that bordered on easy listening. One or two songs were pure schlock.

And so the world waited for the sophomore record. Where would he go with this phenomenal technique?

Not far, it turned out.

A year later, Jordan produced Standards Volume 1—an album of 10 completely unaccompanied guitar solos. It was ballsy, true, but also a mixed bag. It confirmed everything we already knew from Magic Touch. The opening and closing numbers were absolutely astonishing. "The Sound of Silence" was positively groovy. "My Favorite Things" was a version so far removed from John Coltrane, it was practically a new song. And the closer, "Silent Night," was the blues-iest version ever recorded—almost unrecognizable at first, but ultimately a great pleasure.

The rest? Not so much. For starters, the song choices were weird. Stevie Wonder's "Send One Your Love." Bread's "Guitar Man." The Fifth Dimension's "One Less Bell to Answer." The Beatles' "Because." Standards? Maybe in some bizarro universe.

And the treatments were just so-so. A corny rendering of "Moon River." A jaunty but predictable take on "Sunny." Again, as on Magic Touch, Jordan mixed great tunes with mediocre ones.

If you're unfamiliar with Stanley Jordan—and how is that even possible?—definitely try these two debut records. Better yet—take half of Magic Touch and half of Standards and throw the rest away. That would make one outstanding, 5-star record. It's the best way to listen to early Stanley Jordan.

Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

Availability: Plenty of used copies on Amazon

Cost: Would you believe under $1 used?

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jun21Fri
Stanley Jordan
Yoshi's Oakland
Oakland, CA
$23
Jun21Fri
Stanley Jordan
Yoshi's Oakland
Oakland, CA
$23
Jun23Sun
Indian Jazz Journey
Dinkelspiel Auditorium
Stanford, CA
$15-52
Jul18Thu
Stanley Jordan
Kings Place
London, UK
Aug24Sat
Stanley Jordan
Nighttown
Cleveland Heights, OH
Aug24Sat
Stanley Jordan
Nighttown
Cleveland Heights, OH
Sep5Thu
Stanley Jordan
Blues Alley
Washington, DC

Related Articles

Read My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music? My Blue Note Obsession
My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?
By Marc Davis
May 31, 2017
Read Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962 My Blue Note Obsession
Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962
By Marc Davis
May 14, 2017
Read Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966 My Blue Note Obsession
Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966
By Marc Davis
May 1, 2017
Read Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973 My Blue Note Obsession
Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973
By Marc Davis
April 18, 2017
Read Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958 My Blue Note Obsession
Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958
By Marc Davis
April 4, 2017
Read Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959 My Blue Note Obsession
Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959
By Marc Davis
March 21, 2017
Read Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957 My Blue Note Obsession
Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957
By Marc Davis
March 3, 2017