The Many Sides of Marc Jordan
Updated: Dec 9, 2019
By Lenny Stoute | May 3, 2019
He has written hits across many genres for the likes of Diana Ross, Josh Groban, Cher, Bette Midler, Joe Cocker, Chicago, Amy Sky and Rod Stewart (including his worldwide hit, “Rhythm of my Heart”). He’s a Juno-winning producer, an artist with a sturdy international following, a musical visionary with a cinematic bent, a nuanced vocalist, proficient guitarist, Musical Director of the Slaight Family Music Lab and with Amy Sky, a national UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Canada with a burgeoning rep as a painter. With such a rich legacy, it can safely be said dude can kick back and not write another song ever without dulling any of his luster.
That, however, is not how it’s ever going to guy with a guy who matter of factly lets on he’s in the studio every day before he has his first coffee. The current release, Both Sides, is a collection of chilled out popular songs that blur the lines between pop and jazz by some of his favourite composers, along with previously unreleased original Marc Jordan songs, all superbly arranged by Toronto multi-talent Lou Pomanti.
“I suppose this is an album I felt I had to make. It had been in my mind for some time and then the intangibles begin to come together. The first step came randomly. I was listening to Jazz FM and I heard this song that had a feeling which appealed to me. So much that I thought it was a Nelson Riddle arrangement. It turned out to be Lou Pomanti’s work and I thought Wow, he’s great. We’ve known each other for years, so I called him and we just did it.”
Marc and Lou brought some of the best studio musicians together for the sessions including Tommy Emmanuel and Kevin Breit on guitars, the legendary Randy Brecker on trumpet, drummer Kevan McKenzie, and Mark Lalama on keys and accordion to form the core of the in-studio band.
“This is not a thematic album. The songs on it are ones I have loved, in some cases since I was a kid. The American songbook songs are ones my father, Charles Jordan, sang in the 40s and 50s in New York. I grew up with them, and they’ve informed my songwriting to this day.”
“Having been a pop singer for most of my career, switching to being an orchestral singer was not without its challenges. Singing to an orchestra is very different. You don’t have that rhythm to rely on to propel you into the next few bars. And as someone who phrases in odd ways even in the pop world, it was something I had to work at. I would lay down a vocal and then a week later I wouldn’t be happy, so I’d do it again, and then I’d do part of it again. I did each song number of times until I got it to a place where it felt right.”
“I didn’t sing live in the studio with the orchestra, but I wanted it to sound like that, like the way Sinatra would do it. He was right there in the room with them and he would do it and that would
be the take.”
Enter, at the suggestion of Pomanti, the Prague Orchestra, on board to lay the groundwork for the cinematic, tender feeling that Marc was seeking. Lou and Marc provided the orchestra with guide vocal tracks, working with the orchestra remotely via an online hook-up. While the process lacked the personal, in studio touches, recording that way gave Marc free rein to experiment until he felt his vocals were exactly where he wanted them, giving the project a feeling of being made in another time. Times actually, as songs like 'The Nearness of You' and 'What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life’, snuggle up beside unlikely companions from another era, pop hits ‘Wild Horses,’ ‘Both Sides Now’ and ‘Walk OnThe Wild Side’.
What are they doing here? It’s all about the love.
“I was born in Brooklyn and spent lot of time in New York in Seventies. I feel Lou was the quintessential chronicler of NY life in that period. He bridged the gap between the beats and the 70s. He wrote with a street level view of life at that time. He was an artist that predated and foreshadowed much of what is now definingpopular music. I wanted to make music you could see. ‘Walk on The Wild Side’ has been a movie in my head for 30 or 40 years. When I go to New York that’s what I’m hearing in my head. It’s part of the movie of this record. It’s always been romantic for me. That’s the period when I first saw art that blew me away.”
“Both Sides Now is simply one of the most perfect songs ever written.The same song will speak differently depending on the time you record it. It too speaks of its time. It was written on a plane by Joni just looking out the window. Couldn’t happen now because they pull down the window shades to make it easier for computer users to see their screens.
“Wild Horses is another near perfect song that I love just for itself. I found a version with Keith singing the lead. I thought it was really cool and that’s the one that fueled my take on it.”
The album also contains two originals, the tender “He’s Going to Break Your Heart,” written for his teenage daughter when she started dating her first boyfriend. “I saw them together, and I thought was he’s going to break your heart. That’s an emotional thing for me. As her father I knew that the time had come for me to stand back and let her live her life her own way. But I felt it so strongly that I wrote the song and then put it away. I didn’t feel that I even could record it at that point. But now it feels right.”
The other, the gorgeous and poignant “I Saw You”, was written for Marc’s wife, writer, singer and producer in her own right, Amy Sky. That the pair fit seamlessly into the album’s flow says much about Jordan’s ability to usher the personal into the universal.
Talk turns to Jordan’s mellow, lush vocalizingand poetic delivery on the album and Nat King Cole enters the conversation, at which point Marc tell this little tidbit.
“ Apart from the voice, Cole was also a piano player of a high enough caliber to impact on Oscar Peterson, who suggested that he stick to the singing, at which point Cole said, “ Ok I’ll stick to the singing and not play piano if you stick to piano and not sing.”
Both Sides dropped in early April and Jordan’s pleasantly satisfied with its reception. “It’s doing well, getting action in Japan, Netherlands and France, and California is really liking it. Thinking about taking it to the US; looking to play an NY date in December and maybe a California jaunt later in the winter. We’re also looking at a tour in Japan.”
Given the robust reception and how pleased all involved are with the outcome, seems reasonable to expect a Both Sides 2. Marc gives a little chuckle and then, “Not saying for sure right now but it’s very likely. If only because this one was such a gratifying experience and there are so many great songs out there I’d like to try. As well, the orchestral element piqued imaginations right away it feels like, so it appears there’s an appetite for more.”
More dates are likely to be added, built around the writing of a musical he’s been working on for the folks who brought us Come From Away. No rest for the best and he’s digging it.
“I love doing what, I do, love it more than I ever did. I can’t wait to get out on the road and play those songs. Won’t be going out with an orchestra, so the live arrangements will show another side. So fortunate that I get to do this.”