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Guitar Reactionary

June 02, 1985

Leonard Feather doesn't seem to know or care much about the welfare of the jazz guitar. Now that he's officially canonized Wunderkind Stanley Jordan as a "guitar revolutionary" and an "electronics wizard," some of us feel compelled to temper his hosannas with a bit of reality ("Stanley Jordan--Guitar Revolutionary," May 19).

As per the "electronics wizard" label, Jordan's pyrotechnical--and mightily physical--fingers-hammered-on-the-fretboard approach is perhaps the least electronic of the jazz guitar idioms of the past two decades.

Essentially, Jordan has lifted Emmett Chapman's concept (the 10-string Chapman Stick) and lost four strings in the bargain, as well as sacrificing the crucial dynamic range possible through right-hand picking intensities: something akin to playing a piano only by plucking the strings, harp-like.

Harmonically, Jordan is, granted, a gifted heir to the Wes Montgomery crown, but is really closer to a reactionary than a revolutionary. Feather, in his gush of unfounded superlatives, is helping to propel the very hype-mill he warns against. Where is objective restraint when we need it?

JOSEF WOODARD

Santa Barbara

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