I always had this thing about Jazz, but the record that really opened the door for me, was Jazzmatazz Vol. 1. Former Gang Starr mainstay Guru released the album, essentially a hip-hop record but one that was infused with, or rather soaked in Jazz and Jazz-Funk. It went heavy on my stereo till it wore out, and more importantly, it opened my eyes to a whole loads of other records and artists that I learned to love as well.
On that record there was a stellar line up; Donald Byrd, Roy Ayres, Gary Barnacle, Lonnie Liston Smith, Brandford Marsalis and a young British guitar player by the name of Ronny Jordan. Further investigation lead to my finding both his appearance on the Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool compilation, but also the Masters at Work Nuyorican Soul project.
His solo career began with 1992’s The Antidote, which as well as a load of Jordan originals featured a acid jazz version of Miles Davis‘ 1958 classic, So What. From there, he recorded a handful of other solo albums, and was one of the few British Jazz artists on a major label, Island Records owned Antilles, alongside Courtney Pine and Andy Sheppard. His 2000 release, A Brighter Day, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album.
It seemed that Jordan was still a regular on the Jazz, and Jazz Festival Circuit, and so it came as a bit of a shock to all when his Brother and Sister announced his untimely death on Facebook earlier in the week, saying:
“Dear Friends, Family and Well Wishers – It is with our deep regret that Ronny Jordan has recently passed away. We are still coming to terms with the loss of our brother. We are taking steps to manage Ronny’s personal affairs and so we ask if you could kindly bear with us as we deal with his matters in the background. We appreciate that Ronny has got many fans around the world and so we ask that you keep an eye out for further announcements in relation to his funeral arrangements. In the meantime, tributes to Ronny can be left on this Facebook page. Thank you for your patience and understanding. With every blessings and love – Rickey and Denise, Brother and Sister, 14 January 2014”
Ronny Jordan, player of licks, purveyor of soul, pioneer of Acid Jazz, writer of songs, you aren’t and won’t be, forgotten. RIP