Stanley Jordan: Over the Rainbow
Over the Rainbow
Stanley Jordan (guitar)
Stolen Moments (Blue Note CDP 7 97159 2)
Stanley Jordan (guitar).
Composed by Harburg & Arlen.
Recorded: live at the Blue Note, Tokyo, November 1990
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
Stanley Jordan was Mr. Ubiquity in 1990. It would not be unusual to see the jazz guitarist on The Tonight Show on Monday and on the David Letterman Show on Friday. He was probably even on Oprah. He was the flavor of the year. But the unusual aspect was that he was a jazz guitarist. If you don't have a pop song with vocals, you don't get on these shows in America. But Stanley Jordan had something else going for him. He had a unique approach to playing his electric guitar. He would set the amplification gear in a certain way and tinker with his guitar controls to allow his (touch) tapping of the fretboard to ring loud and clear. He was able to play a bass line, melody and add chord shadings simultaneously by using this method because he created a special tuning that facilitated such. It was fascinating to watch, and because of his virtuosity, entertaining to listen to. He wasn't the first to employ this tapping technique on the guitar. But Jordan certainly took the art up about a hundred notches. He is the Jimi Hendrix of this technique.
It didn't hurt Jordan's popularity either that he would choose to play many standard tunes. He would perform tried and tested oldies such "Autumn Leaves," "Stolen Moments," and in this case "Over The Rainbow." He would do so with the taste and aplomb of two seasoned jazz guitar pros. This version of the oft jazz-interpreted "Rainbow" soon became among the most popular in his tapping arsenal. The chord shadings are beautiful. The arpeggios are delicate yet performed with the speed of a 78-rpm record. His use of harmonics is nothing short of brilliant. He hits all the right musical and emotional notes of this touching ballad. At song's end, the live crowd at the Blue Note sighs.
Technique, no matter how well developed or unique, will only get you so far. So after the initial thrill of watching Jordan play, his career took a noticeable downturn as fans got use to his style. This wasn't a disastrous downturn by any means. Jordan still has a loyal fan base, but it is more in keeping with a jazz star following than a rock star. I think this is a good thing. I went to a concert in Los Angeles in the early nineties and was surprised to see that Stanley Jordan was the opening act. He had two guitars set up on special stands on stage. I was expecting an hour of "Over the Rainbow"-type ballads. I expected he would be good and entertain me. But I also expected to become bored at a certain point. Instead, he played one of the hottest jazz-fusion sets I have ever heard! The guy is a monster! NO! Make that a wizard!
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky