Stanley Jordan

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Stanley Jordan
Stanley Jordan.jpg
Stanley Jordan, September 9, 2006
Background information
Born (1959-07-31) July 31, 1959 (age 57)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Jazz, jazz fusion
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1982–present
Labels Blue Note, Capitol, EMI, Arista, Mack Avenue
Notable instruments
Vigier Arpege

Stanley Jordan (born July 31, 1959) is an American jazz/jazz fusion guitarist and pianist.


Stanley Jordan was born in Chicago, Illinois. He began his music education at age six, studying piano, then shifted his focus to guitar at age eleven.[1] He later began playing in rock and soul bands. In 1976, Jordan won an award at the Reno, Nevada, Jazz Festival. He earned a BA in music from Princeton University in 1981, where he studied theory and composition with composer Milton Babbitt and computer music with composer Paul Lansky.[2][3] While at Princeton in 1979 he played with Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie.[1]

Jordan was the first artist to be signed by Bruce Lundvall when the latter became president of Blue Note Records in 1985 and, consequently, Magic Touch was the first release (not reissue) of the rejuvenated label.[citation needed]. Magic Touch was No. 1 on Billboard's jazz chart for 51 weeks, setting a new record. Jordan also made the startup sound for the old Macintosh computers, Power Macintosh 6100, Power Macintosh 7100, and Power Macintosh 8100.

Jordan has performed in over 60 countries on 6 continents. He has performed at many jazz festivals, including: Kool Jazz Festival (1984), Concord Jazz Festival (1985), and the Montreux International Jazz Festival (1985). During the 1980s Jordan played with Quincy Jones, Michal Urbaniak, and Richie Cole. Stanley Jordan has four Grammy Nominations. His 2011 album "Friends" was nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

Film and television[edit]

Jordan made a cameo appearance in the Blake Edwards movie Blind Date (1987), starring Bruce Willis and Kim Basinger. In 1995 he created the score for the short film "One Red Rose", starring Hill Harper and Victoria Rowell, directed by Charlie Jordan. In 1996 he created the score for an ABC afternoon TV special, "Daddy's Girl", directed by Diane Wynter. SInce the mid 80s he has performed on numerous television shows, including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The David Letterman Show and the Grammy Awards. A more complete list appears below under List of Television Appearances.

The touch technique (two-handed tapping)[edit]

Normally, a guitarist uses two hands to play each note. One hand presses down a guitar string behind a chosen fret to prepare the note, and the other hand either plucks or strums the string to play that note. Jordan's touch technique is an advanced form of two-handed tapping. The guitarist produces a note using only one finger by quickly tapping (or hammering) his finger down behind the appropriate fret. The force of impact causes the string to vibrate enough to immediately sound the note, the volume can be controlled by varying the force of impact. Jordan executes tapping with both hands, and more legato than is normally associated with guitar tapping.

A helpful analogy to visualize this technique is the distinction between a harpsichord and a piano. A harpsichord produces sound by plucking its strings, and a piano produces sound by striking its strings with tiny hammers. However, while notes produced on a harpsichord or piano sustain after the pick has plucked or hammer has struck, fingers must remain on a tapped note for the sound to continue. This similarity is what led Jordan to attempt such a technique in the first place;[citation needed] he was a classically trained pianist before playing guitar and wanted greater freedom in voicing chords on his guitar.

Jordan's touch technique allows the guitarist to play melody and chords simultaneously. It is also possible, as Jordan has demonstrated, to play simultaneously on two different guitars, as well as guitar and piano.

He plays guitar in all-fourths tuning, from bass to treble EADGCF (all in perfect fourths as on the bass guitar) rather than the standard EADGBE. He has stated that all-fourths tuning "simplifies the fingerboard, making it logical".[4]

Stanley Jordan's main guitar was built by Vigier Guitars in 1988: it is an Arpege model on which Vigier made a flat fingerboard, allowing it to have a very low action (0.5/0.7mm). The low action facilitates the tapping technique.

Additional and most recent work[edit]

In 2004, Jordan released the album Dreams of Peace[5] with the Italian band Novecento. The record, produced by Lino Nicolosi and Pino Nicolosi at Nicolosi Productions, was released in the U.S. on the Steve Vai label Favored Nations.

After keeping a lower profile from 1995 to 2007, Jordan signed with Mack Avenue Records and released State of Nature in 2008 and Friends in 2011. He has maintained an extensive international touring schedule, including numerous live appearances with jam bands including The Dave Matthews Band, The String Cheese Incident, Phil Lesh, Moe and Umphrey's McGee.

Personal life[edit]

Stanley Jordan was briefly married and has one daughter, Julia Jordan, who is a singer/songwriter living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.[6]

Stanley Jordan is a resident of Sedona, Arizona.[7] He attends Arizona State University working toward a master's degree in music therapy.[6]


As leader[edit]

  • 1982 Touch Sensitive (Tangent)
  • 1984 Stanley Jordan (Blue Note)
  • 1985 Magic Touch (Blue Note)
  • 1986 Standards, Vol. 1 (Blue Note)
  • 1987 El Hurracane (Rounder)
  • 1988 Flying Home (EMI)
  • 1990 Cornucopia (Blue Note)
  • 1990 Street Talk (EMI)
  • 1991 Stolen Moments (Blue Note/Somethin' Else)
  • 1994 Bolero (Arista)
  • 1998 Live in New York (Blue Note)
  • 2008 State of Nature (Mack Avenue)
  • 2011 Friends (Mack Avenue)
  • 2015 Duets (Mack Avenue)[8]

As sideman[edit]

  • Various Artists, One Night With Blue Note (1985)
  • Various Artists, Total Happiness (Music from the Bill Cosby Show, Vol. 2) (1986)
  • Stanley Clarke, Hideaway (1986)
  • Artists Against Apartheid, Sun City (1986)
  • Kenny Rogers, Heart of the Matter (1986) Song: "Morning Desire"
  • Various Artists, Blind Date soundtrack (1987)
  • Charnett Moffett, The Beauty Within (1987)
  • Charnett Moffett, Net Man (1987)
  • Rebbie Jackson, R U Tuff Enuff (1988)
  • Dionne Warwick, Sings Cole Porter (1990)
  • Cody Moffett, My Favorite Things (2002)
  • Ray Benson, Beyond Time (2003)
  • Novecento, Dreams of Peace (2004)
  • Will Calhoun, Native Lands (2005)
  • Julia Jordan, Urban Legacy (2007)
  • Charnett Moffett, Treasure (2010)
  • Sharon Isbin, Guitar Passions (2011)


  • The Blue Note Concert (1991)
  • He Changed the Music: Live at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, Les Paul & Friends (1991)
  • The Paris Concert (2007)

List of television appearances[edit]

  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
  • The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson
  • The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
  • Late Night with David Letterman
  • The Grammy Awards
  • VH1 Video Music Awards
  • The David Brenner Show
  • The Dick Cavett Show
  • The Merv Griffin Show
  • The Arsenio Hall Show
  • Regis and Kathy Lee
  • Austin City Limits (1989)
  • NOVA program on computers and music (1986)
  • Stanley Jordan Live in Montreal, Bravo Network (1991)

Papers and presentations[edit]

  • "APL for Music," APL Quote Quad, 1989
  • "Musical Syntactic and Semantic Structures in APL," APL Quote Quad, 1990
  • "Foundations of Suitability of APL2 for Music," IBM Systems Journal, 1991
  • "Toward a Lexicon of Musical APL2 Phrases," APL Quote Quad, 1991
  • "Introduction to the Chromatic System for Guitar," Downbeat, July 2009
  • "Listening to the Market—an Introduction to Technical and Fundamental Analysis by Sonification," keynote presentation, the Chicago Quantitative Alliance, 2009
  • "An Introduction to Neuro-Linguistic Programming for Music Therapists," self-published, 2000–2002


  1. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Stanley Jordan: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved November 28, 2011. 
  2. ^ W. Craig: "Stanley Jordan: Two-handed Jazz Technique," GP, xvii/9 (1983)
  3. ^ C. Deffaa: "Stanley Jordan," Coda, no.208 (1986)
  4. ^ Ferguson (1986, p. 76): Ferguson, Jim (1986). "Stanley Jordan". In Casabona, Helen; Belew, Adrian. New directions in modern guitar. Guitar Player basic library. Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation. pp. 68–76?. ISBN 9780881884234. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ a b "Biography". The Official Stanley Jordan Site. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  7. ^ Meredith, Bill (May 2008). "Stanley Jordan: The Healer". JazzTimes. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Stanley Jordan | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved August 20, 2016. 

External links[edit]