Jordan offers up his own touch on the guitar tonight at Grottos
Guitar aficionados in the valley should turn out in full force at the Grottos tonight. However, the man they will come to see owes his ground-breaking technique to his earliest musical training on the piano.Stanley Jordan, innovator of the touch technique of guitar, started his music career with piano lessons at the age of 4. It wasn’t until he was 11 that he picked up the guitar and focused on the conventional picking and finger styles of the six-string.After five or six years playing conventional rock, r & b and jazz, Jordan again was bitten by the piano bug. What Jordan was aiming for was a way to mix piano techniques – playing with both hands, each independent of the other – and the electric guitar sound. The result was Jordan’s touch technique, a style that allows playing several parts – bass lines, lead and rhythm parts – simultaneously. His technique has influenced the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, Jeff Healy and others.”There were other people doing something like it,” said Jordan in an interview earlier this year. “But I didn’t get the idea from anybody. I put the pieces together. The main idea was to put a piano technique to the guitar.”Jordan, who plays a solo show at the Grottos tonight, said it didn’t take long to get a decent command of his distinctive style. It was just two months after he developed the touch style that he felt comfortable performing for an audience. At first, Jordan focused on what he calls an “avant-garde, symmetrical mathematical” music that easily lent itself to the technique.”It’s not like it took a lot of time to develop the style. But as far as playing a normal song, that took a while,” said Jordan. Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” was the first “normal song” he worked out.But Jordan still doesn’t think he has his chops perfected. “I’m still learning,” he said.Furthermore, many of the challenges of the touch technique are due to circumstances beyond his control. For his style of playing, precision is required. The standby phrase, “close enough for rock ‘n’ roll” doesn’t cut it.”The ups and downs, the good days and bad days, are more extreme,” said the 40-year-old Jordan. “So many things have to be just right. The temperature can change the neck of the guitar, and that totally affects what I can do.”Jordan has branched out musically in recent years. He appeared with Southern jam band Widespread Panic this past summer in Keystone, and he has been backed in concert by Colorado funk-jazz band the Motet at several performances.
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