Saturday, October 01, 2011
It's shaping up to be a good week to be a jazz guitar fan in St. Louis. Tomorrow night, George Benson (who we covered in this space last week) will be in town to play at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, and then on Wednesday, Stanley Jordan comes to town for a four-night stand at Jazz at the Bistro.
Jordan perhaps still is best known for his distinctive two-handed tapping technique, which lets him play lead and accompanying parts simultaneously on a standard six-string guitar. While he sometimes still does solo shows, his usual working group these days is a trio, often including drummer Kenwood Dennard and bassist Charnett Moffett; that's the format he'll be playing in for his Bistro gig.
Jordan has been to St. Louis at least a couple of times in the not-too-distant past, appearing at venues including the now-defunct Mississippi Nights and Finale Music and Dining, but this coming week will be his debut at the Jazz at the Bistro. Also of note is the fact that he's developed another unusual instrumental technique in recent years, sitting at the piano and playing it with one hand while also wearing a guitar and tapping it with the other hand.
Opinions may differ about the musical usefulness of this particular ability - to these ears, it's not so much that he's really doing anything that startling or different on either instrument, it's just that he's doing two! things!! at!!! once!!!! - but at the very least it's certainly an impressive and difficult-to-duplicate feat of coordination.
You can form your own opinions on that, though, because today, we've got ample audio-visual evidence for your consideration, in the form of two complete concert sets by Jordan totaling nearly two-and-a-half hours of playing time.
Up above is a video of a 2007 performance in Paris, with an hour and forty-five minutes worth of music from Jordan, Moffett and drummer David Haynes. Jordan does a some solo stuff, there's some fairly straight-ahead trio playing, and he also does the simultaneous guitar/piano bit, so overall it seems like a fairly representative sampling of the group's sonic palette.
For still more Jordan, check out the the second embedded video down below, which features him playing a 40-minute solo guitar set, recorded in 2010 at the Jarasum Jazz Festival in Korea. This performance features lots of his signature two-hand-tapping technique, and though the camera work is a little shaky, the view of Jordan's hands is pretty good most of the time, as is the audio quality.