Legendary guitarist performing at the Dakota pursuing degree in music therapy




JamesOnJazzsquareJazz guitarist Stanley Jordan is world renowned for his unique two-handed guitar technique (also known as the touch technique, or two-handed tapping) and will return to the Twin Cities to play a special solo guitar set at the Dakota on July 18.

The 50-something Chicago native lives in Sedona, Arizona and lately has been playing with a number of jam bands, by way of guest spots with musicians such as Dave Matthews and Phil Lesh.

In the midst of all his musical activities, Jordan is actively involved in the area of music therapy. He’s extremely passionate about his work with kids and people in pain and participates in clinics across the country. Jordan is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in music therapy from Arizona State University.

He is a member and spokesperson for the American Music Therapy Association, and has written on his website that he is very excited to be promoting the healing powers of music brought to the public by music therapists in important places, such as hospitals, hospice centers, youth counseling centers, and correctional facilities.

In an interview with Jordan based on a paper he wrote on neurolinguistic programming (NLP), an approach to communication, personal development and psychotherapy created in the 1970s, he told Brain World Magazine how he became interested in music therapy.

Jordan said, “Before I had ever heard of the term, I was already moving in that direction. Once, as a teenager, I recovered almost completely from the flu in one day while playing music with another student. The feeling of the music and the feeling of the healing were one and the same. Later, as an undergrad at Princeton, I got a hold of a book of Scientific American reprints on the brain. I could not put that book down! Although it had no articles on music, it gave me some insights into what happens in the brain while listening to music, and I developed a lifelong interest in finding a way to use music to heal the brain and improve its functions.”

Early on the Princeton graduate was one of the few musicians to explore digital music and has since returned to that endeavor as he continues to diversify his evolving body of work.

Jordan has played with everyone, including Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter and Richie Cole. He has performed in over 60 countries on six continents.

His prowess on guitar can be heard on his latest Mack Avenue album, Friends. For this recording, Jordan let the guest artists lead the way, as the album is about friendship, collaboration, and great vibes. Approaching the music by focusing on elements such as tempo and not styles, and by questioning the feel of the album, all contributed to its creation.

And the making of good music was definitely not overlooked, as Friends features artists that he handpicked, including guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli, Mike Stern, Russell Malone and Charlie Hunter; violinist Regina Carter; saxophonists Kenny Garrett and Ronnie Laws; trumpeter Nicholas Payton; bassists Christian McBride and Charnett Moffett; and drummer Kenwood Dennard.

From classical masterpieces, to straight-ahead jazz, blues, and soulful renditions of pop-rock hits, Jordan brings it on both guitar and his first instrument, piano, for a few tunes.

The romantic classic ballad, “Lil’ Darlin’” with Bucky Pizzarelli is a standout track. According to Jordan, “Bucky brought that one in and gave us all a history lesson. How precious this moment was, reminding us that we were in the presence of one of the greats who helped create this music we call jazz.”

Friends also features the straight-ahead  original, “Capital J” with Kenny Garrett on tenor saxophone and Nicholas Payton on trumpet. Jordan said, “So much of the great jazz I grew up with was built on a strong horn line.” He added, “In the spirit of those great classics I wrote this tune. Nick’s tone is fresh and full of life, and he creates interesting, complex improvisations while still leaving plenty of space. Kenny combines a deep musical knowledge with a natural and effortless facility. My favorite part of ‘Capital J’ was just comping behind the horns.”

Jordan is currently working on a forthcoming album for Mack Avenue to be released in early 2014, which will also feature another guitarist. For more information, visit www.stanleyjordan.com.


Robin James welcomes reader responses to jamesonjazz@spokesman-recorder.com.