(Hollywood) There is a reason why Jasmine Jordan’s Twitter handle is @TheRealJasmineJ. If you know Jordan through her high-gloss urban soul EP, Time Travel, or the lush instrumentation of her new single “Smile,” you don’t know The Real Jasmine Jordan – at least not the one that exploded on stage Saturday night in a high octane chemical reaction with her fans, her band and everyone within earshot. The Real Jasmine Jordan packed LA’s tiny, ultra trendy Amplyfi club way past its occupancy limit Saturday night and bonded with the audience on a molecular level as she rocked, danced, crooned, jumped cheered and shouted in a show that demonstrated why she is becoming one of the most adored and positive voices of her generation.
Saturday night was the last date on her “Smile” tour and for those watching closely, her throat was beginning to feel the wear. But no matter; when the diminutive Jordan hopped on stage, dressed in the accoutrement of her generation – backwards baseball cap, tied up t-shirt, ragged jeans, beautiful wild hair and a mile-wide smile – she was all positive energy. Gone were the electronic accents and exquisitely flowing love notes of her recorded music. The grown-up, sophisticated, platinum jazz club Jordan of the Time Travel EP was transformed into a fast-moving, hard rocking millennial icon that mind-melded with a young, mostly female audience that knew every word of every song – even the new and supposedly unreleased ones.
As always, the accent was on the positive. Jordan knew how much the crowd loved her and she loved them back with greetings to friends, stories of common experiences – “have you been there too?” – and even a shout out to her father, beaming from the center of a crowd packed with people a third his age and less. That is her secret; beyond the talent, beyond the beauty, beyond the stage presence there is a affirmative aura that surrounds Jordan. It enables her to be the smooth r&b and jazz crooner with an appeal across race, gender and generations and yet transforms easily to @TheRealJasmineJ who generates a tidal wave of love from a mostly under 25 and mostly African American and mostly female club audience. Jordan has that uncanny – and still emerging – ability to delete the lines of age and ethnicity and lift all spirits.
The nine songs of her set at Amplyfi exuded that positivity even when they explored the depression of a young girl or longed for past love. After a thanking her audience and her band – who were playing their second set – and reminding the crowd of her one rule: “leave all your cares at the door and rock out,” she opened up with “Possibilities” from Time Travel. Rocking and swaying, using her big eyes to connect with people at the back of the garage-sized club, she set the tone – funk, rock and sing along. The sing-along was boosted by her backup group, Adreene Urbano, Nicole Gentry and Joshua Washington, who doubled on keys.
She moved on to a new song “Bite the Bullet,” ramping up the energy and giving guitarist Jon Maurer ample opportunity to demonstrate his awesome chops. The Jordan of the recording studio then materialized with “Moving On,” mesmerizing an oscillating crowd waving their cell cams to sympathize and fall in love. Alex Urbano’s laid-back bass and Matt Gentry’s low level drums and light shimmering cymbals carried the song gently forward. Jordan moved it up a notch with a high-register chorus and then brought it in for a landing with a soft, heartfelt bedroom voice. She actually quieted the crowd for a few seconds while they absorbed the moment, no mean feat.
Jordan moved into medley territory with “Closer from the EP Timeline and new songs Pretty Brown Eyes,” “What A Man,” “Best of My Love,” “Remember the Time,” “Poison” and “Every Little Step.” As she moved from song to song, the backup singers, far from tired, exuded positive energy with smiles, jumps and even some laugher between lines. The chemistry between Jordan and her band, and among the band members, was infectious. However a careful observer would have seen that Jordan’s subtle looks, head nods and hand motions conducted the happy chaos onstage as well as any professional with a baton.
While most artists grow and evolve from wild stage shows to expertly produced albums, Jordan has gone the other way – or more accurately, both ways at once. Working with a producer to put out a carefully layered, tweaked and vetted music is a discipline that takes many artists a while to understand and to give themselves to. Live performance can be easier, but really great live performance is equally demanding; it requires a personal discipline born of instinct, and on-the-fly creativity as well as band chemistry honed over hours or years of playing together.
Jordan followed both paths simultaneously and it shows on stage. Eschewing the loop boxes and taped effects that many bands use to recreate the studio sound on stage, she sticks with the live vibe, but constantly tunes it to the room vibe, leading and collaborating with the other musicians on stage, regardless of their previous time together. This was very present in the final quarter of the set – “Man Down,” followed by the title track song from her Time Travel EP, “Only One” and finally the tour anthem, “Smile,” the ballad to the sad girl (perhaps Jordan at an earlier age) but stripped of the horns and embellishments of the recorded version. “Smile” was augmented by a guest vocalist and propelled forward by funky beats, grinning harmonies, enthusiasm and sheer positive energy on stage: “Don’t Give Up on You/Keep Moving… There will always be someone who can make you.”
Jordan ended the Smile tour with a flourish, a smile and an overworked throat, surrounded by friends, family and fans. It felt like being backstage at the end of a Taylor Swift concert when the staff opens the door to a roomful of selected fans, only at Amplyfi it was all the fans. If she can continue to toggle between the millennial-and-under crowd and the sophisticated recorded ‘90s r&b audience, she will accomplished a feat that will land her on the headline boards of major venues in a very short time. The chemistry is there and the test tube is bubbling over. Jasmine Jordan’s future is all positive.
Patrick O’Heffernan. Host, Music FridayLive!
EP Time Travel available on iTunes.