Jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan to perform in Hancock
HANCOCK — American jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan was in Milan, Italy, for a rare day off before flying back to the United States, following three shows in Italy.
His first appearance stateside will be at Buddylou’s Eats Drinks & Antiques in Hancock for shows at 6 and 9 p.m.
Jordan, 57, had one last show in Milan to do before heading back to the States. He took the time to answer some questions by email.
WN: Where are you as you're answering these questions?
JORDAN: I’m in Milan on a rare day off. I was recently appointed as Ambassador to the World for the National Archeological Museum of Naples, Italy. Then I did a benefit for Autism in Arezzo. Tomorrow, I play at the Blue Note in Milan.
WN: How often are you on the road?
JORDAN: I’m on the road about 80 percent of the time, playing well over 100 shows a year.
WN: When were you introduced to the guitar?
JORDAN: I got a guitar for Christmas at age 7, but there was no one to help me set it up. I broke three strings while trying to tune it.
I called a radio talk show — Dave McElhatton at KCBS in San Francisco — and I explained my predicament, but this was outside his expertise. Minutes later my mom walked in laughing, “Was that you on the radio?”
I got my second guitar at age 11, this time with a “getting started” book. I was up and running that same day.
WN: What was it about that instrument that spoke to you?
JORDAN: My background was in classical piano, but guitar drew me in because I found the sound more exciting and compelling. I wanted to play blues and rock, and for me, guitar was the ticket.
WN: Was jazz your first musical love?
JORDAN: From classical music, I went to rock and blues, then I discovered jazz. Jazz combined my favorite elements from the other styles because it was both sophisticated and bluesy.
WN: You were young — just in your 20s — when “Magic Touch” was released. Sometimes with such critical acclaim so early, an artist can feel overwhelmed before a sophomore attempt. Was that something you felt? If not, how do you believe you were able to block all the noise and just focus on your music?
JORDAN: After “Magic Touch” I wanted to release two albums at the same time to better cover my stylistic range, but my record label resisted since this had never been done before. I should have tried harder to persuade them because this would have continued the bold momentum that “Magic Touch” had started. As it turns out, Wynton Marsalis released two albums that year and both won Grammys, so I guess it was a good idea after all.
WN: You have steadily put out albums over the years. As the fabric of the music industry has changed, why do you continue to put out albums? And how do you challenge your creativity?
JORDAN: An album for a musician is like a novel for an author— it’s the standard large-scale form that defines our careers and provides our primary motivation and torment. I never thought of not doing it, but the reason varies from one to the next. It’s kind of unfair that everything you played that year should be judged by one hour of music, but that’s the reality of our industry. Sometimes I forget all that and just go for one beautiful idea like the “Duets” project with Kevin Eubanks. Other times I try to throw it all in like the album I’m just finishing now.
WN: How does your new project differ from other projects?
JORDAN: I think the new album is my best work to date. It should be released late in 2017. After all these years, I feel like I’m finally hitting my stride and this album really reflects that.
WN: Are you still working toward your master’s in musical therapy?
JORDAN: The master’s is on hold for now due to heavy touring, but I continue to study and to advocate for music therapy.
WN: Why is musical therapy so important, and what do you hope to achieve with your new skills?
JORDAN: I want to promote healing and healthier living for individuals and peace for the world. I also want musicians to know about this rewarding career path so they’ll have more options for fulfillment.
WN: You have a lot of side projects that have been important to you. Are you still involved with helping endangered sea turtles? If so, how?
JORDAN: Just this past November I was in Brazil and we released a large, young adult turtle that had been rehabilitated after an injury. I have a big project relating to the turtles but it’s still a secret.
WN: Tell me about the Stanley Jordan School of the Arts, and what you hope to accomplish.
JORDAN: With a diverse faculty I want to teach artists in all fields. I want to develop and deploy cutting-edge learning methods and technologies. I want to get more people out of the sidelines and into expressing their own creativity because I believe that this will foster human evolution by making the world more humane.
WN: You live in Arizona, and your bio says your daughter, who is also a frequent contributor, lives in Lancaster, Pa. Will you be making a special trip to see her while you’re in the area?
JORDAN: I do visit her often when I’m in the area and sometimes she joins me onstage. She has two kids now — they are the joy of my life!