World-renowned guitarist Stanley Jordan has developed a new live show called “Stanley Jordan Plays Jimi.” This is a tribute show, but it’s not pure imitation. Instead, Stanley builds on Jimi’s legacy in a creative way. As Stanley explains it, “This is my fantasy Jimi Hendrix concert if Jimi were still alive and playing today. By re-imagining his music and channeling his persona I try to bring that fantasy to life.” Joining Stanley is renowned bassist Gary Kelly, whose resumé includes Jimmy Buffet, Mamas & Papas and much more. Also joining Stanley is drummer Kenwood Dennard, who has been leading the Jimi Hendrix Ensemble for 20 years at the Berklee College of Music, of where he is a percussion professor.
It may also be surprising that a rock legend like Hendrix would get so much love from a jazz legend like Jordan. Stanley’s 1985 album Magic Touch was #1 on Billboard’s jazz chart for 51 weeks, and Stanley has shared the stage or recorded with jazz artists such as Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Billy Cobham. But again, hearing it from Stanley, “I actually played rock and blues before I played jazz. In fact, Jimi’s constant searching for new sounds inspired me to move toward jazz in the first place.” In recent years Stanley has performed with many artists in the rock and jam band worlds, including the Dave Matthews Band, Umphrey’s McGee, Moe. and more. Stanley says, “Returning to my rock roots has been an absolute joy artistically, and with this project I’m taking that to a new level.”
“Stanley Jordan Plays Jimi” is a new project but it’s based on an old idea. Stanley says, “Back in 1970 at the age of 11 I was saddened to hear of Jimi’s passing. I decided there and then to try to continue his legacy, so I took up guitar. Of course, my main goal was to be an original artist in my own right, but the concept of a Hendrix tribute has been in my mind pretty much from the start. Now, in the year of the 50th anniversary of Jimi’s historic Woodstock performance, the time feels right to bring this idea to fruition.”