POINT ONE: Stanley Jordan has two arms. Point two: Stanley Jordan sounds as though he has four arms. Guitarist Jordan also has the "Magic Touch," the name of his debut on the newly revived Blue Note label, and an apt description of his unorthodox and revolutionary technique. Point three: even though he uses no overdubbing or double tracking techniques, Jordan sounds like two very good jazz guitarists in a duet setting. You're probably going to have to see it to believe it, because hearing it and being asked to believe it may just be too much to ask.
Jordan's approach is thoroughly unconventional: He taps or hammers the frets of his guitar high up on the neck, forming positions with both hands (they work independently), playing chords and counterpoint, interpolating bass- lines, leads and fills all at once in a style normally associated with piano (he's a former student of that instrument). It's an awesome and vanguard technique, sort of a one-man orchestra. But it's a technique Jordan is using in a thoroughly accessible commercial context.
"Magic Touch" offers an astoundingly inventive "Eleanor Rigby" and Michael Jackson's "The Lady in My Life," as well as reworkings of Miles Davis' "Freddie Freeloader" and "Round Midnight" (done here as a swinging pavanne); Jimi Hendrix' "Angel"; and several originals, including the enchanting "All the Children," the sweet funk of "Fundance" and the polyrhythmic swirl of "Return Expedition."
At this point, Jordan's sheer technical virtuosity and melodic embellishments are more impressive than his improvisational skills. Then again, he's only 24. And coming up with a technique that's bound to redefine the instrument is not a bad start. His best moments: On "Freddie Freeloader," Jordan's agile, bluesy playing recalls Wes Montgomery and early George Benson, while "Angel" is an astute homage that illuminates Hendrix' approach rather than copying it. Mostly Jordan plays solo (so to speak), as though producer Al Dimeola knew anything else would be extraneous. As a result, Stanley Jordan may be the first guitarist to come in first and second in the annual downbeat readers' poll.
STANLEY JORDAN -- "Magic Touch" (Blue Note BV85101); appearing at Charlie's Georgetown Sunday and Monday.