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Friends

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Audio CD, September 27, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A release that its creator Stanley Jordan cites as his most realized project to date finds him in challenging company: fellow strummers Charlie Hunter, Russell Malone, Bucky Pizzarelli and Mike Stern; saxmen (and label mate) Kenny Garrett and Ronnie Laws; N'awlins trumpeter Nicholas Payton and the renowned violinist Regina Carter. Another label mate, Christian McBride, guests on bass when not handled by Stanley's long-time trio bassist Charnett Moffett. Kenwood Dennard of his trio holds down the drum chair. Truly, a collection of Friends whose benefit push Stanley into a heightened musical reality.

Review

There is no guitarist quite like Stanley Jordan, a star from the moment Blue Note Records launched its second life in 1985 with his own commercial debut, The Magic Touch. In response, a respected reviewer stated that the lanky 26-year-old fresh from several years spent refining his craft as a Manhattan street busker had extended the limits of the guitar, adding that few players in the history of music of music have brought an instrument to a more radical crossroad.
He reached the public for reasons pertaining both to his astonishing chops (his sui generis touch technique, a pianistic approach that enabled him to play melody, chords and basslines simultaneously), exemplary musicianship, and consistent devotion to melodic and creative imperatives. But at a certain point in the early 90s, Jordan retreated from his career, and although he soon returned to public performance he operated without a label until 2008, when he released State of Nature on the rising-star Detroit-based indie Mack Avenue.
Whether playing in public or in the studio, it has been Jordan s intention to make his own inventions the primary focus of the occasion. But on his forthcoming release,Friends [Mack Avenue] (said friends include guitar heros Mike Stern, Bucky Pizzarelli, Charlie Hunter, and Rusell Malone; saxophonists Kenny Garrett and Ronnie Laws; and violinist Regina Carter), Jordan is a consummate team player, prodding and igniting the flow on an 11-piece program that runs a 360-degree gamut of stylistic food groups.
At 52, Jordan has something consequential to SAY in each genre, as though he s thought deeply about each mode of expression over many years. Highlights include a four-to-the-floor, George Benson on steroids cover of Katy Perry s I Kissed A Girl (without overdubbing, Jordan plays the melody on piano while chording for himself on the guitar), an idiomatic investigation of Bela Bartok, a lively samba for Laws, and various ebullient, spectacularly executed interactions with each member of his guitar cohort.

By Ted Panken, Columnist
September 8, 2011 2:00 PM --themortonreport.com ted panken

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 Capital J, features impressive solos by Kenny Garrett on soprano sax and Nicholas Payton 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 on Neal Hefti's Count Basie 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's Seven come Eleven,made famous by Benny Goodman as a showcase for the guitarist and also featuring peerless guitarist Russell Malone. 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 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 on soprano, interjecting a tropical touch with her violin.

For Jordan's Walkin' the Dog, guitarist Charlie Hunter appears and the two guitarists become like peas in a pod, picked from B.B. King'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.

Larry Taylor
Published: September 7, 2011 --allaboutjazz.com Larry Taylor


Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 27, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Mack Avenue
  • ASIN: B005EH3D1M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,363 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By RBSProds on September 28, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Five BRILLIANT Stars! Enjoyable, bright & hard-swinging! 6 months after purchase, I frequently listen to this CD by guitar wizard Stanley Jordan & his all-star cast, & it keeps getting better. Jordan is one of the giants of jazz guitar, having the genius to create his groundbreaking "SJ Technique": a two-handed "touch technique" that allows him to play a guitar fingerboard somewhat like a piano keyboard: plucking strings on chords, tapping strings on solos, or a mixture of both, often creating the illusion of multiple guitars (but a standard pick does surface on "Bathed in Light"). And Stanley is an excellent jazz and classical pianist who sometimes plays guitar and piano simultaneously. The 'best of the best' begins with Jordan's own "Capital J" which is a blazing performance with engaging solos from Kenny Garrett on soprano sax, Nicholas Payton on trumpet and Kenwood Dennard on drums. "Walkin' The Dog" is funky, tasty solo stuff from Jordan and guitar ace Charlie Hunter. Coltrane's "Giant Steps" is hard-swinging fare with sweet guitar solos from Jordan and Mike Stern trading melody, bass, and chord duties over Dennard's solid brushwork. Jordan demonstrates his simultaneous guitar and piano technique, transforming Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" into a bluesy romp with Hunter's guitar back on stage. "Samba Delight" has Ronnie Laws on soprano and the hot & sweet violin of Regina Carter, who is outstanding both here and with Stanley on piano on the Bartok variation "Romantic Intermezzo". Charlie Christian's "Seven Come Eleven" is a smoking collage of unison notes and solos from SJ, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Russell Malone that got an immediate replay, as did the mellow "Bathed in Light", featuring Payton's lovely brass tone.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Future User on October 15, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
From the first note, this musical gem transported me to some kind of hip, old-school juke-joint. The first 8 tracks stand alone, and would make a great little party CD. Then the scene changes to a classical music hall, then to a relaxed interlude on a favorite old couch.... Then, when we think we've figured him out, Stanley takes us to the Twilight Zone on the final cut. Those of us who are longtime listeners know -- it's just Stanley being Stanley. His creative impulse cannot be bound to a single music genre, so he continually re-invents himself, and re-invents the listening experience.

I had often wondered how Stanley's unique touch-style picking would sound coupled with a smooth sax, or a little Count Bassie orchestration, and this CD finally lets it all hang out. Don't miss this trip. Stanley's "A" game is once again front and center.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By juda on November 7, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Great listening for jazz afficianados - with some wonderful classical violin as extra frosting on the cake (as if it needed it)! Jordan's interpretations are so pure and easy. Truly a talent with lasting appeal for any genre of music he entertains us with.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Shariat on October 27, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I personally enjoy his last album, 'State of Nature', far more than this. I think the main difference is that on 'State of Nature', it is all Stanley arranging the songs, while on this album, it is other artists arranging the songs and Stanley tapping over them. This isn't a bad album-- it's decent, just not as powerful as I'd like. There were songs on the last album such as "Song for my Father", "Insensetaz", "Shadow Dance", "Steppin' Out" that I just don't feel are matched on this album. Of course, YMMV.
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