Jordan Tice is a young guitarist who is releasing a third CD under his name at only 21 years of age.
Long Story, recently released on Patuxent Music, features 10 original instrumental compositions performed by a group of stellar progressive string musicians. Jordan recorded his first solo project, No Place Better, in 2005 and was part of a trio album (Corbett/Chrisman/Tice) in 2007 with banjoist Wes Corbett and hammered dulcimer player Simon Chrisman.
This new solo release shows not only an obvious grasp of acoustic guitar technique, but a fresh compositional voice as well. It is not presented as a “guitar album” – with track-after-track of fiddle-tuney flatpicking – nor does it incorporate the odd vocal number with an eye towards radio play. In fact, the CD is more of a statement about Jordan’s original music than it is his guitar playing, and it is the tunes that shine, both for their clever melodies, and as improvisational vehicles for Tice and his fellow pickers.
The opening melodies are as likely to be presented by the dobro, fiddle or banjo as the guitar, which Tice had in mind when he created the tunes for this album.
“I did write many of the melodies with other instruments in mind. One thing that ties most of the music I love together is that the elements that make up the music are veiled behind the flow of the music. My goal was to make a record with a bluegrass band that accomplishes this rather than to highlight the guitar and ignore the abundance of textures and sounds the bluegrass band is capable of producing.”
Jordan’s tunes range from a fiery fiddle tune form (Sofia) to jazzy, new acoustic ballads (Chincoteague), and even an orchestrated, scored piece (The Colony).
Sofia really jumped out at me on first hearing, and it hasn’t diminished a bit upon multiple listenings.
Listen now: [http://media.libsyn.com/media/thegrasscast/sofia.mp3]
“Sofia was written a few years ago pretty quickly. Id say it’s the most straight forward on the record in that its just a tune that we play and improvise on with minimal arrangement. I named it after Sofia, Bulgaria after a visit there last summer. I just liked the simple and pretty sound of ‘sofia’ and figured it fit.”
Another tune that aptly demonstrates the character of this CD is The Salad Days, which opens with a cross-picked guitar melody which is soon picked up by the resonator guitar.
Listen now: [http://media.libsyn.com/media/thegrasscast/salad_days.mp3]
Jordan is finishing his education in music composition at Towson University in Maryland, where he attends on a full scholarship. He has obviously taken this training to heart, as Long Story strikes me as a very musical album, and Tice’s writing for the other musicians is spot-on from start to finish.
Speaking of the other musicians…
Noam Pikelny has finally earned the notoriety he has long deserved for his work with Chris Thile and Punch Brothers. He shines here, as he does whenever he straps on his banjo. On fiddle, Casey Driessen is called on to cover a wide variety of style, which he does with his typical aplomb, and Mark Schatz provides note-perfect bass throughout. Andy Hall is on resonator guitar, and not only states themes and improvises, but also covers much of the rhythmic ground that a mandolin normally would in this sort of ensemble.
Jordan’s mom, Susan Tice, is a fine fiddler and plays on one tune (Song For Leslie), and the sole cut with mandolin features Marc MacGlashan, a fellow Marylander who Jordan claims as one of his favorite mandolinists.