Marc Jordan | Both Sides | (Linus Records)
4 out of 5
“In a way I’ve been putting most of this song list together for about 25 years,” producer/musician Marc Jordan says of Both Sides, his new collection consisting mostly of covers. “I’ve been singing these songs and others in my head for such a long time, only because I love them.”
Given a career that stretches back over 40 years and collaborations with such distinguished artists as Diana Ross, Rod Stewart, Cher, Bette Midler, Manhattan Transfer, Olivia Newton-John, Chicago, and Josh Groban, it says a lot about Jordan’s love of music that he would still return to the classics. Indeed, with a set list that includes such standards as Hoagy Carmichael’s “Nearness of You,” Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready,” and the Stones’ “Wild Horses,” Both Sides literally lives up to its name in terms of its eclectic assortment.
Jordan adds two songs of his own to the set as well — “I Saw Your Smile,” which he says, he wrote for his wife Amy, and “He’s Going To Break Your Heart,” written about his daughter falling in love for the first time. Not surprisingly, both tracks coalesce with the tender tones of the album overall.
“There were other songs,” Jordan notes when asked how many other tunes were considered. “I thought about two others that I had written, but the two I chose are the ones I felt I sang the best.
There was also a song I recorded which was written over a track of Oscar Peterson’ , given to me by his wife Kelly. Although we recorded it, in the end it was not used.”
It’s notable that the arrangements for the classics Jordan covered veer little from the original templates, so little in fact that “Walk on the Wild Side” could almost be mistaken for the original, given Jordan’s dead pan vocal which specifically mimics Reed’s original. Nevertheless, the jazz-informed arrangements clearly aim for more of a mass appeal accessibility. His take on “Both Sides Now” is especially affecting, despite its abbreviated pace. Indeed, Jordan tends to inject these songs with a kind of lounge-like delivery, an approach that’s particularly apparent on “Wild Horses,” subbing the Stones’ cynicism for pure sentiment. Likewise, his redo of “People Get Ready” is far more of a rumination than the original’s call to action.
“A lot of the credit goes to Lou (Pomanti, the album’s producer) and his arrangements,” Jordan remarks. “I have always strayed from from melody in my own songs as others. Sometimes I gave been criticized for reinventing them, but mostly people get it. If I were a horn player, it would be expected, and I do the same thing when I sing a song. It keeps me engaged in the meaning of the songs as well. Melody is language.”
Indeed, that seems to be the case here given Jordan’s fluid interpretations and the shimmering stance he takes throughout. It’s suggested that Both Sides could be his take not he Great American Songbook.
“Well, I never thought about it in that way, but I think in many ways you are right,” he muses. “I think the American Songbook, though well-defined now, maybe will expand as years go by. We can look at the great songs of the last half century and add them to what came before. A great song is. great song. Not only do we have Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Jerome Kern and on and on, we can also add Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Ray Charles, Lady Gaga, Dolly Parton, and so many more.”
Jordan pauses for a moment before continuing.
“I think one of the messages with Both Sides is that it’s all about the music, Either it’s good or it isn’t. The lines can’t get blurred, and they should. In the end, a great song is meant to reach into the soul and whisper something to us that says we are human. No other art form touches the should like music, and those of you who love music are as blessed as we are who make the music. It stirs the passions and pushed against the status quo. That’s what it’s supposed to do.”