Stephanie Jordan assembled a top-notch group of long-time collaborators to record her debut album. The vocalist hand-picked such notables as pianist and arranger Mike Esnault, saxophonist Roderick Paulin, bassist Chris Severin and numerous members of her family including her father, saxophonist Edward “Kidd” Jordan, brothers Marlon and Kent Jordan on trumpet and flute respectively and her uncle, trombonist Maynard Chatters.
With all this talent behind her, Stephanie clearly takes center stage on a performance that is both swinging and dramatic. The material comes from the songbook of the dynamic Lena Horne. The vocalist lovingly attacks the songs with obvious respect, maturity and verve.
This is your first CD as leader. What took so long?
I might be a perfectionist. I guess it’s because I’ve been around jazz all my life and my experience in jazz is at such a high level. So I think, for me, I just hold that in such high esteem. If I was going to participate, I wanted to put something out there that was meaningful and worthwhile.
When did you first appear on stage professionally?
I’ve been singing for 20 years. I felt like it took me 20 years to really know what the heck I was doing. When you record, that’s a document; that’s forever. I reluctantly recorded with my brothers. They had to drag me into the studio to do those gigs but I’m glad that I did them because it helped me understand the process.
Your father appeared on the album. Did he record in the studio with you?
I wasn’t in the studio when he went in to record. I had no idea that I was going to ask my dad to record and he didn’t either. I’m glad that I had family that I could call and say, ‘Okay, I need a saxophone solo here.’ It wasn’t until I took the tapes home and listened to them for about month—almost two months—and then I decided. So I called my dad up and asked him to do the solo on “Watch What Happens.” And he was like, ‘How did you come up with that?’ So I told him there’s just a kind of way that the song progresses that lends itself to your phrasing. I really listen to music not just from a singer’s perspective. I really hear where soloists belong, phrasing-wise, intensity-wise, style-wise. I was really tickled that my dad did that. You know he doesn’t do anything that he doesn’t want to do.