Rhythm guitar — with its bouncing pulse, its swinging elasticity, and the ripe-fruit sound of those strings — isn’t a dying art, as I’ve seen happily on both coasts and overseas. But the late Steve Jordan was one of the art’s finest creators — hired by Benny Goodman, Vic Dickenson, Ruby Braff, Buck Clayton, and others (the thread here is the enthusiastic advocacy of John Hammond). Later in his career, Jordan got more opportunities to show off his soloing in support of his dry, witty singing.
Here he is, captured by my YouTube friend Sfair (I know his real name but keep it to myself) at a National Press Club function in Washington, D.C., on December 4, 1980, with bassist Van Perry, a Virginia stalwart who played so often and so well on Johnson McRee’s Manassas Jazz Festival recordings:
Jordan’s feature is a 1938 song — music by Matty Malneck, lyrics by Frank Loesser, I GO FOR THAT, a slangy, snappy version of what I call The Insulting Love Song (the earlier MY FUNNY VALENTINE is a much more gentle example) where the lover rues the inadequacies of the loved one and finds him/herself smitten nevertheless. The version I hear in my head is Mildred Bailey’s, but Steve Jordan is doing a good job, two decades later, of displacing it.