Music » Critics' Picks

Stanley Jordan

Thursday through Saturday, May 19 through 21; Finale (8025 Bonhomme Avenue, Clayton)

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Guitarist Stanley Jordan burst onto the jazz scene in the mid-'80s in an explosion of creative and commercial possibilities. Jordan's distinctive two-hand tapping technique, which enables him to play multiple, simultaneous parts -- melody plus counterpoint, harmony or bass lines -- on a single six-string instrument, made him an immediate hot topic of discussion among critics, guitarists and jazz fans. Meanwhile, his second album, Magic Touch, was the biggest-selling jazz record of 1985, heralding what seemed sure to be a lucrative, high-profile career.

Jordan's subsequent CDs showed off the guitarist's ability to interpret pop and funk as well as smooth jazz and swing, but none matched the sales of his sophomore effort. Then in the '90s, Jordan dropped off the radar, at one point going seven years between recordings. Following a newly kindled fascination with health and spirituality, he severed ties with his management and left New York for the Southwest, where he became interested in music therapy, enrolled in a degree program at Arizona State University and joined the American Music Therapy Association as an artist spokesperson.

Jordan's 2003 recordings, Ragas and Relaxing Music in Difficult Situations, hinted at his new sense of purpose, while the 2004 release Dreams of Peace (alongside the Italian group Novecento) returned to smooth jazz and funk. Wherever Jordan's spiritual quest takes him next, his technical skills and wide-ranging imagination still offer the tantalizing promise of interesting music-making.

Shows at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $35; call 314-421-4400 to order.

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