The Stephanie Jordan Big Band current show continues Jordan's signature trademark of singing jazz standards from the Big Band era. It includes highlights from her self-produced debut CD on her Vige Music label; "Stephanie Jordan Sings A Tribute to the Fabulous Lena Horne; Yesterday When I Was Young" which honors the legendary Grammy Award winner who starred in many films and whose one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music (1981), was hailed as her masterpiece.
Stephanie who has had the privileged of mentoring under the guidance of Shirley Horn says that it was actually "Lena Horne who served as her first introduction to great jazz singers. As a little girl I wanted to be Lena Horne."
Noted jazz critic Ted Panken writes of the CD, "Great lyrics permeate this beautifully rendered homage, and Jordan has the skill sets to do them justice-a voice that projects from a whisper to a scream, impeccable diction, dead-center pitch, fluid phrasing. Backed by a breathe-as-one 8-piece unit of top-shelf New Orleanians that sounds twice its size, and counterstated by a cohort of virtuoso soloists, she finds fresh, unfailingly swinging approaches to this well-traveled repertoire, melding into a personal argot elements garnered from such distinguished mentors as Shirley Horn, Abbey Lincoln, Nancy Wilson-and Lena Horne herself-while sounding like no one other than Stephanie Jordan. As she aptly puts it, "it's a tribute, not a copy."
The album offers Jordan a magnificent platform on which to showcase her exuberant spirit and abundant talent, but also contains an autobiographical component. The back story starts in the spring of 1983, when Horne visited New Orleans for the third and final time, bringing her one-woman show to the Saenger Theater for several weeks. The contractor was Jordan's father, Edward "Kidd" Jordan-best known as an outcat improviser who navigates the interstellar spaces of late period John Coltrane, but also a distinguished educator and first-call session musician. He procured tickets for his family.
"I have witnessed hundreds of performances, by a lot of big-name singers and that one never left me," says Jordan.
"That night was the first time I'd ever witnessed a true jazz singer with everything-the fame, the fortune, the beauty, the style, the wit, the charm, the big band." Jordan continues. "After she did some subtle things where she talked about her life, she sang 'From This Moment On,' which blew me away. The whole theater was on edge. Then, when she sang 'Yesterday When I Was Young,' everyone jumped up and erupted. I had never witnessed one person on stage send an audience into frenzy like that. It was like, 'Oh! This is jazz singing, for real . . .'"
Panken continues, "The album's title track, Yesterday When I Was Young, a Charles Aznavour gem that Horne documented on the 1969 LP Lena and Gabor. Jordan's sodium pentothal treatment-the truth WILL be told-is evocative of the magical phrasing of Shirley Horn, a close friend of Jordan from her D.C. days."
The full album reveals Jordan's signature treatment of jazz standards from the Big Band era performed with select solos by her father Edward "Kidd" Jordan; her brothers trumpeter Marlon and flutist Kent Jordan; and Uncle Maynard Chatters. Roderick Paulin's solo treatment on Stormy Weather is enchanting while Emmy Award recipient Mike Esneault provides musical utopia on the keys throughout the album.
Jordan's only regret is that Horne isn't around to hear this heartfelt offering. "I was two years into doing tributes to Lena, when she died," she says. "It was devastating to me.
Stephanie Jordan, whom critics have placed in the company of Nancy Wilson and Diana Krall, began to receive noted prominence following the national televised Jazz at Lincoln Center Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concertfor victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"After Hurricane Katrina, an extraordinary cohort of singers-among them, in no particular order, Shirley Caesar, Aaron and Arthur Neville, Cassandra Wilson, Diane Reeves, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Norah Jones, James Taylor, and Bette Midler-convened at the Rose Theatre to perform a benefit relief concert for the victims of the catastrophic. On that memorable night; none sang with greater authority or emotional resonance than Stephanie Jordan, who enthralled the packed house and a national PBS NPR audience of millions with an ascendant reading of "Here's To Life."
Bill Milkowski of JazzTimes Magazine writes "Stephanie Jordan, a standout here, was the real discovery of the evening. Her haunting rendition of this bittersweet ode
associated with Shirley Horn was delivered with uncanny poise and a depth of understated soul that mesmerized the crowd and registered to the back rows. Singing with a clarity of diction that recalled Nat "King" Cole. . ."
Jordan brought the concert to its climax, rendering the Phyllis Molinary lyric-an instant classic when the late Shirley Horn recorded it in 1991-with impeccable diction, dead-center pitch, and a personal point of view, acknowledging Horn's antecedent version while drawing independent conclusions about tempo, phrasing, and dynamics. In the process, Jordan... revealed a fully evolved tonal personality, one that can be mentioned in a conversation about such distinguished mentors and influences as Horn, Abbey Lincoln, and Nancy Wilson." (Ted Panken / Jazz at Lincoln Center Playbill)
Music critic James Walker added, "Stephanie Jordan . . . stepped in and simply mesmerized the near capacity Harris Theater crowd with a sparkling performance that surely put her in good stead with the astute Chicago audience. . . . She was at ease from her opening medley of "On A Clear Day," "I'm Beginning To See The Light" and "Come Fly With Me." Her infectious smile and charisma was ever present and she had this crowd on the edge of their seat until she left the stage several hours later singing "From This Moment On."
In the fall of 2011, Stephanie Jordan also concluded taping a movie soundtrack for Lee Daniels' production of "The Paperboy" which co-stars SAG and Golden Globe Award nominee Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, macy Gray, and John Cusack among others. Jordan alsoperformed on the soundtrack "Season's Start" in the Tribecca Film release of Café Society staring Lara Flynn Boyle and Peter Gallagher.
This preceded her recording on the Holiday release of "Christmas with the New Orleans Ladies of Jazz" CD produced by her sister Rachel Jordan. The album featuresfeatures New Orleans' renowned jazz divas; Germaine Bazzle, Leah Chase, and Stephanie Jordan performing their favorite holiday tunes with the Music Alive Ensemble.
Gambit Weekly Music declares, "Stephanie Jordan is a lady with a great set of pipes. Anyone who has ever romanced their honey to Johnny Adams's moody, lounge-lizard smoky vocals on 'You Don't Know What Love Is' will thrill to Stephanie's silk-between-the-fingers treatment of that song, the title cut."
All About Jazz adds, "Her tone is crisp, perfect, but not in that polished way that sounds like an opera singer attempting jazz. She is more like a master of technique, yet with plenty of soul."
Jazz critic Sandy Ingram writes "She's a singer with poise and pizzazz, with a voice and an appealing look that bring to mind Carmen McRae and Lena Horn." Stephanie's lyrical style has also been compared to Norah Jones and Diana Krall, while others say it's more like living legends Cassandra Wilson and Dianne Reeves.