Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Touch-technique guitarist
Stanley Jordan began his study of music on the piano at the age of six, shortly after his family had relocated from Illinois to California. At the age of 11 he took up the guitar, initially due to the influence of the music of Jimi Hendrix; within a couple of years, however, he had moved on to jazz. Throughout his teen years he worked at adapting a two-handed piano-playing style to the fretboard of the guitar, in the course of which he also developed a tuning for the instrument (fourths) better suited to this new approach. His mastery of this "touch playing" had reached such a level of development by the time he was 17 that it won him the soloist competition at the Reno International Jazz Festival. A period of study at Princeton University followed, with Jordan taking time outside of his education to peform both with local bands and, on occasion, jazz luminaries such as Dizzy Gillespie.
After finishing at Princeton, Jordan founded the label Tangent Records and released his first solo album, Touch Sensitive, in 1982. The album did not generate much interest, and the guitarist earned his living for a while as a street musician around New York, Philadelphia and various other cities. His reputation eventually led to a audition for head of the Musician division of Elekta Records, but Jordan put off signing a contract for over a year, choosing instead to refine his technique and spend time with his newborn daughter. When at last a deal was made, it had moved over to the newly-resurrected Blue Note label; Jordan's 1985 album Magic Touch would be the company's first contemporary release of this period -- and an enormous critical and commercial success, remaining at the top of the jazz charts for 51 weeks.
Building on the popularity of the album, Jordan made numerous appearances as a musical guest on The Tonight Show, David Letterman and similar programs, even turning up in the 1987 Blake Edwards film Blind Date. A sporadic output on Blue Note was maintained afterwards, with the occasional release (such as 1990's Cornucopia) re-instigating some of the acclaim generated by Magic Touch. Much of the music created by the guitarist over the years remains unrealized due to his lack of satisfaction with the results. Since the mid-1990s Jordan's focus has been split between touring and his involvement with the AMTA (the American Music Therapy Association), for whom he works as a spokesperson.
University: BA Music Theory and Composition, Princeton University (1981)
University: Music Therapy, Arizona State University (in progress)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Blind Date (27-Mar-1987) · Himself
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