Review and photographs by J Hunter
Sometimes it’s hard to remember Stanley Jordan does play with other people. The guitarist worked with groups like the Dave Matthews Band, Umphrey’s McGee and Phil Lesh & Friends; and Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton and Kenny Garrett are just some of the all-stars that appear on Jordan’s 2011 Mack Avenue release Friends. (He even shares space with fellow axe-murderers Bucky Pizzarelli, Mike Stern and Charlie Hunter!) But for his two-set stand at the Van Dyck, Jordan was, in his own words, “back to doing this ‘Me and my guitar’ thing!”
After 25 years, you’d think Jordan would want to tweak that act a little, and he has, to a certain extent: When he opened for Kenny Garrett in Glens Falls five years ago, he played piano and guitar… at the same time. But on this night, the only visible difference from past years was Jordan’s look: The short ‘fro has been replaced by a natural ‘do parted down the middle, with bangs heading in opposite directions and a short ponytail. A bird’s-feather earring dangled from his left earlobe as Jordan eased into his first number, an unannounced meditation that mixed jazz, blues and classical forms into one seamless package. Jordan followed that with a superfast take on “El Condor Pasa” that took the Paul Simon composition deep into flamenco territory, as he made jaws drop for the umpteenth time with his signature two-handed, fingertip-tapping style.
“How do you do that?,” an audience member asked plaintively between songs. Jordan just smiled: A good magician never reveals his secrets.