Arriving atop a high tide of publicity and word-of-mouth, Stanley Jordan justified all the hype with a dazzling solo guitar show at Charlie's last night. The 25-year-old Californian used his novel two-hand tapping technique to create one-man guitar duets that had guitarists in the crowd shaking their heads in disbelief.
As Jordan sat on a bar stool, both of his hands danced independently across the guitar neck tapping out notes. While this resembled a pianist's technique, Jordan enjoyed a guitarist's control over tone and note shading. Moreover, he had the musical command to free the left hand for autonomous, counterpointed single-note runs against the right-hand melody.
No matter how fast or complex these double lines grew, Jordan never faltered, but sustained a continuous musical thread. Indeed, he was able to slip parenthetical asides into Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Wave" or spin out the lyrical theme of his own "All the Children" without losing it.
Just the same, it's important not to overpraise a young guitarist who still has a lot of growing to do. Jordan may be the most dramatic innovator on the electric guitar since Hendrix, but his music hasn't yet attained the emotional depth of a Kelvyn Bell or a Vernon Reid, a Richard Thompson or a J.J. Cale. Not to worry -- Jordan has lots of time. He returns to Charlie's tonight.