Jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan to jam at Buddy Lou's in Hancock
Stanley Jordan started playing piano in the 1960s when he was six years old. By the time he was 11, he was playing classical music and composing in the style of the late Romantic period.
But when his parents divorced, they had to get rid of the piano, and he no longer had one to play.
“We had a lot less money. I was interested in playing the blues and R&B. I loved jazz, but I hadn’t really tried to play it yet,” he said. “The guitar seemed like a good instrument for some of the new music that I was getting into.”
Inspired by the music of artists including Jimi Hendrix and B.B. King, he persuaded his parents to get him a guitar.
“When Jimi Hendrix passed, I decided in that moment that I wanted to play guitar,” Jordan said. “What he did was so amazing, his legacy was so rich. In just a few years he did so much. The rest of us needed to continue his legacy. That’s why I started playing, basically.”
Jordan, who was born in Chicago, Ill., and grew up in northern California, went on to play in rock and soul bands, and to receive honor in 1976 at the Reno Jazz Festival. He studied music theory and composition at Princeton University, and played with jazz legends Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie. His 1985 album “Magic Touch” set a Billboard record, staying at No. 1 on the jazz chart for 51 weeks.
On Friday, May 24, Jordan will perform two shows at Buddy Lou’s Eats, Drink & Antiques, the three-floor cottage featuring new American cuisine and craft beers in Hancock. It will be Stanley’s second time performing at the venue.
Jordan spoke with a Herald-Mail reporter by phone while he was on the road in Buffalo, N.Y. Sometime last year, he said, Buddy Lou’s proprietress Diane Smith contacted him by Facebook Messenger.
“She said something like, ‘You probably have no interest in this. We are probably too small for you. But we have this sweet little venue and I’d love to see if we can get you here,’” Jordan said. “I read about it and I said, ‘Wow. This sounds like a nice place to play.’”
Smith and Jordan made arrangements and he played the gig.
“I really enjoyed it,” Jordan said. “I mean, it is smaller than the places I usually play, but the people are so sweet.”
Jordan said his music is “a little different than the mainstream” and the audience at Buddy Lou’s had an honest appreciation for his sound.
“It is something different and unique. I felt so much love from the audience there. So I’m really happy,” he said.
Part of Jordan’s signature sound stems from his background on both piano and guitar.
Though his family piano was long gone, as he advanced through the years in school, Jordan once again had access to the piano there. While he had been playing guitar, he said, he missed “the possibilities of the piano.”
“I was very much into guitar but looking for a way to bring the piano, the orchestral possibilities of the piano, to the guitar,” he said.
Through that search, he developed the “touch technique,” which involves tapping his fingers on the fretboard of the guitar with both hands.
“I’m not the first person to think of it,” he said, “but I thought of it independently.”
It would be fair to say that he helped to develop the technique and put it on the map, he said, along with Eddie Van Halen of the American hard rock band Van Halen.
“(Van Halen) was probably the most well-known person using the technique. We basically started around the same time,” Jordan said. “I’ve done a variety of things with it but he definitely deserves a lot of the credit as well.”
Jordan plays a blend of reinvented classical masterpieces, pop rock hits, jazz and ultra-modern improvisational pieces. He plans to change up the playlist from his last appearance at Buddy Lou’s.
“This time, I’m going to have a bit of an expanded sound palette,” he said. “I’m bringing extra effects for the guitar. It’s not just going to be melodies, harmonies and rhythms. I’m going to be working with different sounds on the guitar.”
Jordan is “really excited” about the show.
“I think the thing I love most about Buddy Lou’s is the vibe,” he said. “I’m looking forward to sharing that again.”