Concert Review: Stanley Jordan, January 13, Blues Alley

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Watching Stanley Jordan play guitar is like watching water flow. It’s a fluid motion. It’s entrancing and calming and enrapturing all at once. It carries an elemental energy. It’s a force of nature.

Jordan, a Chicago native, took the stage at Blues Alley, a cozy and intimate club down a small alley in Georgetown, and proceeded to fill the venue with music in a way that I didn’t know was possible. I don’t play guitar myself, but my basic understanding was that you place the notes with one hand, and strum with the other. Not if you’re Stanley Jordan. Jordan plays with a two-handed tapping technique. Meaning that he both taps and plays the note with the same finger. Meaning that he plays with about twice the speed of other guitarists. When imagining the speed of his fingers, think classical violin player rather than guitarist. He also sometimes simultaneously plays piano while he’s doing this.

Jordan made his way on Saturday night through “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix and “Fragile” by Sting, as well as a number of classical covers, alternating between guitar, guitar/piano, and guitar/piano/singing. Each piece was about six minutes long – enough time to get totally lost in the song, and if you looked around the club everyone had this vaguely amazed/starstruck/mesmerized/dreamy look as they watched Jordan play. You could’ve heard a pin drop – nobody wanted to miss a single note.

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