Ronny Jordan: Guitarist whose version of the Miles Davis classic tune ‘So What’ became an Acid Jazz dancefloor favourite

 

The Miles Davis standard “So What” has been a modal jazz touchstone for 55 years, providing the harmonic canvas for myriad improvisations and reinterpretations.

Yet the tune only entered the British charts in February 1992, a few months after Davis’s death, when the British guitarist Ronny Jordan recorded a funky version showcasing his bright, crisp and fluid playing over a backing track combining traditional jazz instruments and drum programming.

Released at the height of the acid jazz movement, Jordan’s take on “So What” became a dancefloor favourite and helped launch the guitarist internationally. The Antidote, his debut for Island, and his 1993 follow-up The Quiet Revolution, both sold 100,000 copies in the US, where he straddled the R&B and smooth jazz stations with a contemporary sound he described as “urban jazz ... Really big drum loops with fat grooves”.

Dominant throughout the jazz-rock era of the 1970s with John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola and Coryell, the guitar had been subsumed back into the backline but Jordan restored the instrument to prominence in the jazz world.

Jordan enjoyed collaborating with DJs and rap and soul acts, and broadened his fanbase with the Bad Brothers mix album and a guest appearance alongside the British vocalist D C Lee on “No Time To Play”, a UK Top 30 single in 1993. The next year Guru and Jordan teamed up with trumpeter Donald Byrd for “Time Is Moving On”, the opening track on Stolen Moments: Red Hot+Cool, the fifth of the Red Hot Aids Benefit Series of compilations.

In 2000 A Brighter Day, the first of two albums Jordan made for Blue Note, featured Mos Def on the title track and was Grammy-nominated in the Best Contemporary Jazz album category. The same year, Jordan won a Mobo award for Best Jazz Act and gained a new audience when “The Jackal”, a track from The Quiet Revolution sung by Dana Bryant, was lip-synched by the actress Allison Janney in an episode of The West Wing.

He was the second of seven children of Jamaican parents who had moved to London. Following his mother’s death he was brought up by his father, a church deacon, and wasn’t allowed to listen to reggae at home, though he grew up with the Beatles, Motown, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole and Sam Cooke. He began playing the ukulele as a child and by the late 1960s was backing gospel singers in church.

Switching to guitar in his teens he drifted towards jazz, influenced by players like Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery – and George Benson, who would guest with him during a memorable show at London’s Jazz Café in 2010. He remained a mainstay on the circuit until 2012, when he gave concerts in Japan, France, Spain and Italy. The cause of his death was not disclosed by his family.

Ronald Laurence Albert Simpson (Ronny Jordan), guitarist, songwriter and producer: born London 29 November 1962; died London 13 January 2014.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam