December 12, 1988 12:00 PM

Stanley Jordan

After his first two Blue Note albums, someone must have pulled Jordan aside at a music industry function and told him, “Hey, kid, you’re beautiful. One of the most phenomenal guitar talents to come along in decades. But can all this dusty, multistring jazz stuff. This ain’t physics class, kid; it’s music. Give the people something to dance to.” In any event, with Flying Home, Jordan sheds his wimp image with an alacrity that the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz could envy. The Preston Glass-produced record is crammed with such funky, full-bodied numbers as Can’t Sit Down and Brooklyn at Midnight. There’s still a beguiling, fragile tone to Jordan’s playing that comes from working the upper frets with unique frequency and ease. Even when provided with thick, bracing beats, Jordan can’t keep himself from decking them with beautiful, rainbow-like arpeggios, as he does on Street Talk. Part of Jordan’s attenuation of tone is a result of his amazing dexterity on his instrument—you’d need to slow down the record to fully appreciate all the things he’s doing on a song like Tropical Storm. Jordan has said he was going for a more “lyrical” touch on this album (for the curious Swing Era fan: The title track is a Jordan original, not the Lionel Hampton theme). He has obviously achieved his aim on tracks like When Julia Smiles. The mood of this romantic instrumental ballad isn’t disrupted even when, near the end of the song, Jordan’s left hand flies up and down the neck of his guitar with the speed of a hummingbird. He shows off his incredible picking technique on a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, a surprising but rewarding venture and one that may have even Jimmy Page shaking his head in disbelief. With this album, Jordan seems to have accepted the dictum that the way to the record buying public’s heart is through their feet. (EM)

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