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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Magic Touch /
Standards Volume 1 /
Flying Home

BGO Records BGOCD 1070



Magic Touch
1. Eleanor Rigby
2. Freddie Freeloader
3. 'Round Midnight
4. All The Children
5. The Lady In My Life
6. Angel
7. Fundance
8. Return Expedition
9. A Child Is Born
Stanley Jordan - Guitar
Wayne Brathwaite - Electric Bass (track 5)
Peter Erskine - Drums (track 2)
Sammy Figueroa - Percussion (tracks 1, 8)
Onoje Allan Gumbs - Keyboards (track 5)
Omar Hakim - Drums (track 5)
Charnett Moffett - Acoustic Bass (tracks 2, 8)
Bugsy Moore - Percussion (track 8)
AI Di Meola - Cymbals (track 8)
Standards Volume 1
10. The Sound 0f Silence
11. Sunny
12. Georgia On My Mind
13. Send One Your Love
14. Moon River
I. Guitar Man
2. One Less Bell To Answer
3. Because
4. My Favorite Things
5. Silent Night
Stanley Jordan - Guitar
Flying Home
6. Street Talk
7. Tropical Storm
8. When Julia Smiles
9. Can't Sit Down
10. Stairway To Heaven
11. Brooklyn At Midnight
12. The Music's Gonna Change
13. The Time Is Now
14. Flying Home
Collective personnel
Stanley Jordan - Guitars, digital programming, additional keyboards, bass
Preston Glass - Keyboards, drum programming, bass
Noel Klosson, David "Pic" Conley - Keyboards, drum programming
Larry Graham - Drum programming, bass, keyboards
Joshua Thompson, Arthur McAllister - Keyboards
Anthony Jackson - Bass
Steve Reid - Percussion
Codaryl "Cody" Moffett - Percussion, drums


I well remember the sensation that Stanley Jordan caused when he burst on the scene in the 1980s. He had invented a method of playing the guitar which enabled him to play notes with both hands at the same time. It was called a hammer-on effect because it involved hammering or tapping a string against the fretboard. This allowed him to play chords and bass lines at the same time as the melody. He was signed by Blue Note Records and Magic Touch (1985) was his first album with that company. It was followed in close succession by Standards Volume 1 (1986) and Flying Home (1988).

From the very first track, one can understand the excitement that Jordan aroused. His version of Eleanor Rigby keeps several strands of melody and accompaniment moving at the same time. Freddie Freeloader is a calmer piece of swing, illustrating his allegiance to jazz. Stanley's high notes remind me of Les Paul's similar style, although much of Les's work was created by double-tracking, whereas Jordan is playing every line simultaneously.

Stanley's versatilty is shown by the wide range of material he plays on Magic Touch, including the jazz-rock of Rod Temperton's The Lady In My Life; Jimmy Hendrix's Angel (a tribute to one of Jordan's influences); and three tunes (tracks 4, 7 and 8) that Stanley composed.

In several tracks on Magic Touch, Stanley is assisted by other musicians, but Standards Volume 1 consists entirely of Jordan playing solo. This is virtuosity of the highest standard. Take, for example, Stevie Wonder's Send One Your Love, where Stanley creates his own counterpoint, weaving together different lines which he decorates with dextrous runs and chords.

Flying Home, the last of these three albums, holds a clue as to why Jordan's profile dropped from public awareness almost as quickly as it had burst into life. He quite quickly became disenchanted with the demands of the studio bosses, who seemed determined to turn him from a jazz virtuoso into a mass-market guitarist (although the sleeve-notes suggest that Stanley agreed with this change of emphasis). The guitarist was surrounded with heavy jazz-funk beats, leaving him little room to display his originality. Instead he sounds like just another guitarist, playing single lines above unsubtle accompaniments. Stanley's unique qualities were submerged by the desire to transfer him to the musical mainstream. He is only allowed to display his unique sound on two tracks (Stairway to Heaven and Flying Home). Small wonder that he soon relinquished recordings, preferring to train in music therapy and then teaching as a music therapist.

It is good to have these three albums (especially the first two) collected together on this double CD. The originals have been skilfully remastered to obtain a bright, clear sound. Although in later years Stanley seemed to have vanished from making recordings, he reappeared with a new album which I reviewed here in 2008. But Stanley Jordan's career is an object-lesson in the dangers posed by trying to go "commercial".

Tony Augarde

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