Sunday, July 31, 2022

Both Hands Burning

We are reaching the peak of summer and the end of July, with 100 degree temps in the shade and a post about one of the hottest players ever to touch a musical instrument.

They are turning 63 today and I've always wanted to cover them, so screed I shall.

There are just not too many people about whom you could say OK, this person opened up a whole, distinctly new approach and avenue of expression for their chosen instrument.

Today's birthday person is undeniably one of them.

In fact, since their advent, there have been entirely new, hybrid instruments (like the Warr Touch Guitar, an even tappier Chapman Stick) invented to handle the demands of their boundary-shattering approach.

I remember seeing them on some TV show -- it might have been David Letterman or Johnny Carson -- in the early 1980s and thinking they were surely too talented and visionary to even be from this world.

Using the technical innovations made in the 1960s and 1970s by folks like Barney Kessel, Harvey Mandel, Steve Hackett and Eddie Van Halen -- who were among the first to tap on the fretboard and use both hands to essentially move the guitar's nut around during a solo -- as a sort of starting point, today's honoree redefined what was essentially a one-dimensional, somewhat flashy maneuver and made it into a whole galaxy of horizonal possibilities.

If I had to describe two-handed tapping, I'd probably say it's like using both hands as a perpetual motion capo, changing where all the notes are on the instrument from moment to moment.

In other words, definitely not something your camp counselor was doing around the fire that summer in 8th grade, when he sang all those Eagles tunes for the kids.

They've been doing it at a very high level for these last 40 years, and there are moments in the concert I'm sharing today in their honor when they make quite an ensemble, even integrating simultaneous guitar and piano into their arsenal in perfect, one-person band style.

It's almost impossible to write about a musician as innovative and unique and Stanley Jordan -- who was born this day in 1959 -- so I'll cease my paltry effort and get to this unbelievable, tour de force of a performance: one that made me think, wow this person has lost precisely none of their fire over the course of a long career, have they?

There isn't much to say about this ridiculous two hours of stunning sound showcase, except that Stanley Jordan does it all and more. Everything but sell popcorn at the concession counter.

The simple observation I'd make, as a veteran of who knows how many live concerts, is that it would be 101% out of the realm of the reasonable to expect to buy a ticket for anything and receive this level of committed, boundless artistry and effort in return.

 Stanley Jordan Quartet
"Meeting Stanley Jordan"
Müpa Budapest
Béla Bartók National Concert Hall
Budapest, Hungary

01 Mozambiqueudu
02 Reverie
03 A Place In Space
04 Bartok 1
05 Fragile
06 All the Things You Are
07 Tak Tom
08 Queca
09 Tavaszi Szél
10 Piano Concerto #21 (W.A. Mozart)
11 I Kissed a Girl
12 Bartok 2
13 The Lady In My Life
14 Stairway to Heaven
15 City of New Orleans

Total time: 1:51:42
disc break goes after Track 08

Stanley Jordan - guitars, piano & vocals
Christian Galvez - bass & vocals
Kornél Horváth - percussion & vocals
Gábor Dörnyei - drums & vocals

extracted 384/48 audio from a 2021 Astra 9 digital HD satellite TV broadcast
converted to 16/44 CD Audio, tracked & slightly remastered by EN, July 2022
508 MB FLAC/July 2022 archive link

This concludes our romp through July, seven posts for the seventh month.

I'm hard after August here, but don't elevate out over your skis about that just yet.

Let's instead use the remaining, waning hours of July to tap into one of the most revolutionary guitar players of all time. Long may they practice the magic touch!--J.