A purple haze paints the sky over the ocean as twilight approaches the Atlantic City Boardwalk this Wednesday, August 17, 2022 evening. It is here at Kennedy Plaza, adjacent to the city’s famed Boardwalk Hall, that music lovers are assembled for a evening of Jimi Hendrix classics performed by the virtuoso jazz guitarist, Stanley Jordan.
Stanley Jordan was born in Chicago, IL, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He began his music career at the age of six studying piano, but switched to guitar when he was eleven. As a teen, Stanley played in rock and soul bands and even performed with Quincy Jones when he was still in high school. In 1981, he earned his bachelor’s degree in music from Princeton University where, while still a student, he performed with such well-known jazz artists as Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Carter.
After graduation, Jordan was signed to Blue Note Records, a key to his musical success being his mastery of a special technique of playing focused on the guitar’s fretboard. Instead of conventional strumming or picking with one hand and fretting with the other, Jordan perfected an innovative “touch technique” of guitar playing which involves an advanced form of two-handed tapping on the fretboard that allows him to play melody and chords concurrently, on two different guitars at the same time, or even on guitar and piano simultaneously.
Over the course of Jordan’s career, he has performed with a wide variety of artists including Kenny Rogers, Art Blakey, Stanley Clarke, Kevin Eubanks, Dave Matthews, and the jam band, moe. He appeared in the tribute film, Les Paul: He Changed the Music, as a member of a guitar supergroup that included Eddie Van Halen, B.B. King, Steve Miller, David Gilmour, Brian Setzer, and Les Paul, himself. As a touring artist, Jordan has performed in over 60 countries on six different continents and he has also received four Grammy Award nominations.
On the Atlantic City Boardwalk, concert producer Carmen Marotta welcomes tonight’s audience, thanking the show’s sponsors and reminding the crowd about upcoming events in the 2022 Mardi Gras AC concert series including John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band who perform here on Wednesday, August 31, 2022. Calling him “one of the world’s greatest guitar players” and “a force in the musical universe,” Marotta introduces tonight’s headliner, announcing, “Here’s Stanley Jordan playing the music of Jimi Hendrix!”
Wearing a ’60s style orange headband and suede boots to complement his black jeans and white T-shirt, Jordan takes the stage along with bassist Michael Bowie and drummer Noel Burton.
Opening with “Lover Man,” Jordan’s clear, resonant voice cries, “Here he comes, baby/Here comes your lover man/I’ll sneak out your window, babe/I really gotta go as fast as I can.”
After he vocalizes, Jordan performs an impressive solo, playing solely with his left hand on the neck of his guitar as the music’s funky vibe captivates the audience.
Following “Up from the Skies” — a number which features a tasty Michael Bowie bass solo in addition to a jazzy Stanley Jordan guitar solo — Jordan and the trio launch into “Voodoo Chile,” where the band picks up the tempo. Making his guitar cry on this driving blues-rock number, the music flows directly from Jordan’s talented fingers onto the beach and Boardwalk.
Jordan impresses the crowd with his patented “touch technique,” playing his guitar with two hands like he’s playing a piano, and letting some notes ring out while executing others so fast they become a swirl of sound that’s almost too fast for the human ear to process.
The crowd erupts with a standing ovation and Jordan exclaims, “Thank you!” prior to announcing, “This next song is a true story.” Segueing into the ballad, “Angel,” Jordan’s soulful voice sounds sweet and full as he croons, “Angel came down from heaven yesterday/She stayed with me just long enough to rescue me/And she told me a story yesterday/About the sweet love between the moon and the deep blue sea.”
Next up is “Earth Blues,” an upbeat rocker which features Noel Burton’s stylish drumming. It’s followed by “Little Wing,” a slow funk tune on which Jordan first plays with his left hand on the guitar’s neck before playing with both hands on the fretboard like a keyboard, bending and sliding notes to the crowd’s astonishment.
A highlight of tonight’s set is Jordan and Co.’s rendition of Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” where Jordan’s performance kisses the sky with exceptional talent and musicality.
Playing with one hand, Jordan rocks the Atlantic City Boardwalk, getting the attention of multiple passers-by who stop to take in his artistry and respond along with the rest of the assembled crowd with animated whistles, cheers, and applause.
“Thank you,” responds Jordan, adding, “This next one is dedicated to everybody out there. It’s a blues song called ‘Red House.’” After soulfully crooning, “There’s a red house over yonder/That’s where my baby stays/Well, I ain’t been home to see my baby/In ninety-nine-and-one-half days,” Jordan stands center stage, his guitar on fire, as Michael Bowie’s bass and Noel Burton’s drums drive the beat home on this jazzy blues number.
Following cheers and applause, Jordan thanks the audience for coming before publicly thanking the members of his trio. Concertgoers on the Boardwalk stand and applaud as they insist on hearing one more song.
For an encore, Jordan and Co. perform “Hey Joe.” As Jordan cries, “Hey Joe/Where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?” Bowie and Burton sing backup before Jordan stands on top of a speaker enclosure playing his guitar. After lifting his instrument up over his head, placing it behind his back, and playing it backwards, the crowd reacts with wild cheers and applause for Stanley Jordan and his trio.
As audience members get ready for a second set of music by The Curtis Salgado Band, we chat with several concertgoers who share their thoughts on tonight’s Jimi Hendrix tribute by Stanley Jordan. Exclaims James from Ventnor, “This was a great show — I really enjoyed it! Stanley Jordan sounded exactly like Jimi Hendrix.” Michael from Margate agrees, declaring, “My favorite song tonight was ‘Voodoo Chile’ — that one really brought me back in time to another place!”
Mandy from Ventnor asserts, “I loved ‘Purple Haze!’ Stanley Jordan is a true master at his craft, and I absolutely adored his interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s music, which was amazing both to hear and to see.”
Sonia from Atlantic City maintains, “I love Stanley Jordan! I absolutely love his music, and I hope they’ll bring him back again,” before noting, “I love all the concerts they put on here at the Boardwalk, where you get to enjoy amazing music outdoors, and it’s all free!” Her friend, Fran from Atlantic City, agrees, insisting, “We love these Atlantic City shows, where the atmosphere is perfect and the mood is perfect. They’re culturally diverse and they’re all presented right under the stars,” before concluding, “More shows like Stanley Jordan’s are exactly what we need here in Atlantic City!”
To learn more about Stanley Jordan, please go to stanleyjordan.com. For information on future free Mardi Gras AC concerts on the Atlantic City Boardwalk at Kennedy Plaza — including John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band on August 31 — please click on tonymart.com.
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