A Rare Talent: Guitar virtuoso Stanley Jordan

When I started putting together Enlightened Planet in 2005, I knew that what I wanted to do more than ANYTHING was to make it possible for some of the world’s most talented musicians to get an opportunity to perform in Southeast Asia.

I wasn’t interested in just one musical genre. I wasn’t interested in just one nationality, or just one instrument, or just one record label… I wasn’t interested in JUST ONE of anything. I wanted EVERYTHING.

I wanted to present artists who were masters of their instruments, artists who were incredible composers, artists who had created phenomenal recordings, artists with the intellect and the strength to take on a challenge, and artists who were confident enough to build on those skills and those past glories, and continue innovating and producing new works in their own chosen paths.

Stanley Jordan is clearly one of those artists.

Stanley Jordan

Stanley Jordan came to prominence with the release of his 1985 debut gold-selling album Magic Touch, a revolutionary project that dually placed him at the forefront of re-launching legendary Blue Note Records into a contemporary entity in jazz and beyond, as well as establishing the then-twenty- something Jordan as among the most distinctive and refreshing new voices of the electric guitar.

Key to Jordan’s fast-track acclaim was his mastery of a special “tapping” technique on the guitar’s fretboard instead of conventional strumming and picking. While a handful of other virtuoso players were using similar techniques, Stanley’s fluid and melodic use of tapping captured the imagination of listeners via his inherent warmth and sensitivity.

But the success of that first release created a bit of a trap for a musician who was known for his eclectic interests. Because he debuted on the Blue Note label, he was marketed as a jazz progressive when what he was trying to stress was music beyond stylistic boundaries. Subsequent albums found Jordan caught in a frustrating web of wanting to usher his audience into deeper levels of his artistry while record companies craved more of the stuff that had whisked him to the top of the charts.

After a self-imposed exile from the rat race in the 90’s that included a retreat into the mountains of the southwestern part of the US, Stanley Jordan has re-emerged with a new life’s direction. “Most people – if and when they find their calling – come to see themselves in some sort of service capacity,” he states. “Right now I feel a strong desire to bring my music to the people not just for entertainment, but also for inspiration and healing.”

His latest CD release, 2008’s State Of Nature, is a gorgeous and sweeping recording which brings together all these key aspects of Jordan’s approach to life: the musical virtuosity and eclecticism, the love of nature, the drive to learn and evolve and improve.

“Part of the reason I made this album were revelations I discovered in my journey to try to become a better person,” he states. “The other reason is that I discovered some disturbing information about environmental issues… The two main ideas that consumed my thoughts were these: human beings need to get back to nature, which extends to the environment as well as our bodies – the part of nature we carry around with us – and we need to evolve intellectually, spiritually, and politically.”

This thought process led to the underlying inspiration for the song structures and themes of State Of Nature. The resulting music finds Stanley weaving classical, jazz and rock textures to get across his messages of atonement and harmony. Beyond his signature touch technique on guitar, Stanley utilizes other revolutionary techniques, such as playing two guitars at once, playing guitar and piano simultaneously, and incorporating sounds of nature that he recorded himself.

Enlightened Planet is delighted to be supporting the presentation of Stanley Jordan, live in concert, in both Thailand and Singapore.

Please join us on October 7th at M Theatre Bangkok, as Prart Music Group and Singha present the Stanley Jordan Jazz Concert…

Or please join us on October 10th at The Esplanade Recital Studio in Singapore, for A Night with Stanley Jordan, supported by locally based jazz trio Weixiang on piano, Christy Smith on bass, and Eddie Layman on drums.

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