News & Press
Norton Center presents “Jazz Genius” and Guitar Legend Stanley Jordan for its third Club Weisiger show
Jan 28, 2012
DANVILLE, KY— On Saturday, January 28 Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts will present "jazz genius" and guitar legend Stanley Jordan in the third performance of the Club Weisiger Series. The previous performances in the series, HAHN-BIN and Raul Malo, sold out.
Trying to describe Stanley Jordan in simple terms is like trying to explain Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in ten words or less; no matter what you say, you’d be leaving a lot out. Best known as a guitarist who has made major technical and musical contributions to his instrument, Jordan has made a name for himself as one of the most significant guitarists of the late 20th Century.
After seeing him perform with his trio at the Montreal Jazz Festival, Los Angeles Times jazz critic Leonard Feather was prompted to write, “Genius is a word too often tossed around in musical circles, but it has been rightfully applied to Stanley Jordan.” With a digital music composition degree from Princeton University, performances alongside Benny Carter, Quincy Jones and Dizzy Gillespie, four Grammy® nominations and numerous film and television appearances, Jordan’s two-handed tapping technique has made him a legend, weaving classical, jazz, pop and world textures. Equally at home with performing his original music or paying homage to Stevie Wonder, Mozart, Ray Charles, Maurice Ravel, this concert will simultaneously stimulate your senses while massaging your mood.
“This concert will certainly appeal to a cross-section of music lovers,” said Norton Center Executive Director Steve Hoffman. “Classical music lovers will be turned on to pop songs such as Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” the Beatles, “Eleanor Rigby” and perhaps Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”; pop fans might hear jazz standards by Horace Silver and Ray Charles; and jazz lovers will be blown away by guitar interpretations of classical works by composers such as Mozart and Bartok. For those who love guitar music of all styles, the greatness of Stanley Jordan and his legendary musical style will be transforming.”
In a career that took flight in 1985 with immediate commercial and critical acclaim, Jordan has consistently displayed a chameleonic musical persona of openness, imagination, versatility, respect and maverick daring. Be it bold reinventions of classical masterpieces or soulful explorations through pop-rock hits and ultramodern improvisational works—solo or with a group—Jordan can always be counted on to take listeners on breathless journeys into the unexpected.
At various points during his live performance, you see Jordan do something that will blow your mind: using the left hand, he will play various rhythmic, jazzy chords on guitar, while simultaneously putting his right hand to work on a piano to play constantly evolving chords and soloing sections. Making an impressive record in this fashion is one thing — which he did during much of the 1980s and occasionally in the 90s — but watching Stanley demonstrate this skill live is truly amazing.
Jordan’s most recent recording, Friends, includes a take on Claude Debussy’s Reverie in a jazz context which features Jordan and his road trio of Charnett Moffett on bass and Kenwood Dennard on drums. The group has been performing this for many years, which explains the fluid ease with which they weave through it. “We pretty much stuck to the form on this one except for a brief modal improv which was obviously not written into the original composition,” Jordan states, “but I feel that it gets across the meaning and spirit of the song.”
Friends closes on an ear-turning note with "One for Milton," a heartfelt yet adventurous tribute to one of Jordan’s most beloved music teachers, composer Milton Babbit (1916-2011), who passed away as Jordan was preparing to record Friends. “I studied theory and composition with Milton at Princeton in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. He was a giant in his field and he left a big impression on me—musically and personally. In Eastern spiritual traditions a guru is someone whose very presence confers enlightenment. Milton truly fit this description.”
Reflecting on the wealth of music inspired by collaborating with chosen peers on Friends, Stanley Jordan concludes, “I am so humbled and grateful to all of the wonderful musicians who graced this project. This collection truly speaks to my belief in the integrationist spirit of music. I’d like to move beyond ‘fusion’ and explore the concept of ‘integration.’ When you integrate styles, you combine them into something new while still remaining true to the original sources. The same principal holds for our friendships, which require mutual respect. Our friends are a mirror revealing the diversity within us, and at the same time they give us the courage to share our true selves with the world.”
The Stanley Jordan Trio concert begins at 8:00 PM in the Norton Center’s 367-seat Weisiger Theatre. Tickets, all $30, are on sale now and can be purchased on the web at www.NortonCenter.com or by calling the box office at 1-877-HIT-SHOW.
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