Chicago Jazz Ensemble
with Stephanie Jordan

Harris Theater, Chicago, IL
February 18, 2011

Stephanie Jordan with Jeff Parker, Dan Anderson & Dana Hall

Story and Photos by James Walker, Jr., Copyright 2011

Paying homage to legendary singers Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald on the same show is a daunting objective to say the least. For the CJE, this task really became a challenge several weeks ago when scheduled featured Grammy nominated R&B vocalist Ledisi canceled her appearance, leaving Dana Hall and the CJE staff to scramble for a replacement.

Having seen Ledisi perform recently at Jazz venues, this listener was really looking forward seeing the New Orleans native front the renowned CJE for such an important concert. To the surprise of many, another 'Nawlins native was available and eagerly took advantage of the opportunity to come to the Windy City on very short notice.

Stephanie Jordan, lesser known member of the musical Jordan family from the Crescent City 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. Stephanie's father, saxophonist Kidd Jordan was a frequent visitor to Chicago often performing with the late Fred Anderson at the now defunct Velvet Lounge, but Stephanie was an unknown.

That's no longer the case as she performed as if it was second nature. 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."

Throughout the evening, CJE musicians were highlighted with extended solos, but Ms.Jordan was the "Star" of this show. This listener isn't sure how many rehearsals she had with the band, it appeared as if she was a regular member. They were all on point throughout and never appeared to miss a beat.

Jordan never attempted to imitate Sarah or Ella ( scatting wasn't even attempted), she just unleashed beautiful music in her own style without committing musical sacrilege with these timeless songs. With such a sparkling vocal instrument, why not just do what you do best.

CJE, based at Columbia College in downtown Chicago often showcases a student and on this occasion, trumpeter Sam Harris had the spotlight as he performed "Tenderly" with Ms. Jordan like a seasoned veteran. This young man was poised and made sweet music with Jordan. When not soloing, he complemented her with a nice soft touch in the background.

Other highlights of the evening was trumpeter Art Hoyle's solo on "Autumn in New York". This was a number arranged by former CJE's director William Russo for the Stan Kenton Band. Also, Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia" with lyrics by Chaka Khan allowed pianist Jeremy Kahn and Pharez Whitted demonstrate their varied skills as Jordan worked the entire stage as if she was at home.

Although musical director /drummer Dana Hall never took an extended solo during this performance, his leadership was quite evident throughout and it appears that he has arrived as CJE's new leader and has this outstanding band headed in the right direction.

CJE's final performance of the season will take place on May 20 at Chicago Symphony Center as they pay tribute to the late great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson in the year of her 100th birthday. CJE's former director John Faddis will be the guest conductor. Tickets can be purchased at www.cso.org.

Jeremy Kahn, Dan Anderson, Jeff Parker & Stephanie Jordan

Stephanie Jordan, Dana Hall & Sam Harris

Dana Hall

Jared Harris

Jeff Parker

Pat Mallinger


Tom Garling, Art Hoyle

Rob Denty

Pharez Whitted

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