One world-class musician will pay tribute to another at Crossroads in Garwood Saturday, as jazz fusion guitarist Stanley Jordan leads a tribute to the late blues-rocker Stevie Ray Vaughan, the day after the 60th anniversary of Vaughan’s birth.
Joining the 55-year-old Chicago native and Princeton University graduate will be drummer Bernard Purdie, whose credits range from Aretha Franklin to Miles Davis, Cat Stevens and Steely Dan; and bassist Charnett Moffett, a former member of the Wynton Marsalis Quintet who also has played with Art Blakey, Ornette Coleman and Dizzy Gillespie.
Tickets can be purchased on Facebook at facebook.com/CrossroadsNJ, or by calling Crossroads at (908) 518-0323.
I talked to Jordan by phone on Wednesday.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your history with Stevie Ray Vaughan. Is he someone that, as soon as you heard him, you knew was someone special?
A: Oh, yeah. I always loved his music so much. I have a great memory of hanging out with him around ’86. It was some kind of convention. I think it was for people in the radio industry. And he was one of the musicians who was there. And a bunch of us had gathered in a party at a hotel, and he and I were just jamming all night. It was so much fun. He was one of my favorite guitarists, so to get to play with him was really amazing.
Q: Was that the only time you played with him?
A: Yeah, it was the only time.
Q: This show you’re doing Saturday, is that something you’ve done in other places, or is this the first show you’ve done of this kind?
A: Yeah, it’s a unique thing. This is the only time we’re doing this — a great combination that hasn’t been done before with Bernard Purdie and Charnett Moffett. I’ve played with them separately, but not together as a unit, so I’m really looking forward to that.
Q: Have you worked out the songs you’re going to do?
A: We’re still working on what it’s going to be. There is a (Stevie Ray Vaughan-written) song that I recorded on an album that was a Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute (1996’s Crossfire: A Salute to Stevie Ray Vaughan), called “Riviera Paradise.” That was a cool song for me when I first heard that. Because it was kind of jazzy. You know, like, in the early days, I was looking for a way to get into jazz, coming from more of a rock and blues background. So that song was one of the things that had kind of the jazzy notes I was looking for. So anyway, years later, I did record that, so that’s going to be one of the tunes.
Q: Will the whole show be Stevie Ray Vaughan-related?
A: No. The theme is there. So we’re going to be doing some of his stuff, and related music. And also just kind of exploring what comes up with this particular trio. I’m really looking forward to what’s going to happen with Charnett and Bernard Purdie together.
Q: After this, might you guys continue playing together in some way?
A: It might happen. There’s no plan right now. … And (at Crossroads) I’m going to also do some solo stuff, and we’ll probably do some jazz tunes, too. So it’s going to be a varied program.
Q: I know Crossroads is a place where you’ve appeared occasionally over the years. How did you first start doing stuff there?
A: (Promoter) Jan Greiner is a friend of mine who’s arranged some things for me, here and there, through the years, and I think she was the first one who got me booked in Crossroads. That was pretty long ago: probably 20 years ago or something. I really liked the food and the atmosphere and the people there, and we always had really good audiences. I remember one time I came, it wasn’t my night to do a show, but it was a weekly jam night, and I came to that, and sat in, and I was really impressed by the caliber of the musicians who were coming there, too, so I could see that this was a real important venue in the community, and it was great that so many people appreciate it.
Q: Is it a place where you kind of try out new material sometimes, and use it in that way?
A: Yeah, definitely. And in fact right now, I’m working on an album, and so we might do some of that stuff. I have some songs that may or may not go on the album.
Q: Do you live in New Jersey?
A: No, I don’t. I live in Sedona, Ariz. I really like it there. But you know, the last four years I’ve been on the road more than I’ve been home. The touring’s been pretty much constant.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about the new album you’re working on?
A: There’s one that’s already been finished that will be released in February: a duets project with Kevin Eubanks. And then there’s another that I’m working on, my next album as a leader. I’m looking forward to it: I have some guest artists on it. It’s not going to be based on the artists so much, like my (2011) “Friends” album was, but I do have some great people who are going to play on it.
Q: Can you tell me who these guests are?
A: I can tell some of the people I know for sure will be on it. On drums, we have Kenwood Dennard, and T.M. Stevens on bass, and some other guitarists: Muriel Anderson, and the two guys from the Tierra Negra group. Those are the main people who are confirmed, but there’s a couple of other people we’re talking to. It’s still in the early stage, but I have been doing some recording. We did a session just the weekend before last, in New York. So it’s actively in progress.