Born on the south side of Chicago, the seeds of Oscar Jordan's musical eclecticism was planted at an early age. From the Harry Belafonte, folk, and opera records played by his grandmother, to the rock, soul, and jazz records played by his mother and father. Of course growing up in Chicago there was no escape from the blues, and when he later took up the guitar, his lessons in the blues would last decades. Oscar: "I remember hearing all kinds of stuff growing up. Marian Anderson, Charlie Pride, Billie Holiday, even Tennessee Ernie Ford. I still know the lyrics to "Sixteen Tons." I also loved James Brown, Motown, and The Jackson 5 like all the other kids in the neighborhood, but it was Paul McCartney's Ram album that changed my life. That album was my introduction to white rock, and in particular The Beatles. For the rest of my life I would be labeled "The black guy who likes white boy music."
Throughout high school Oscar taught himself to play acoustic guitar but it wasn't until he joined the army that his whole guitar philosophy changed. "I heard a guitarist playing in the barracks who could play the first two Van Halen albums note for note on a cheap Les Paul copy and a pig nose amp. It blew my mind. Edward Van Halen changed the whole guitar landscape. Before that I was playing acoustic pop folk. After that I was obsessed with Van Halen and great guitarists of all styles. I became obsessed with Al DiMeola, Steve Morse, Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery, Carlos Santana, and later Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix is a fountain of creativity."
After his stint in the army, he attended Chicago's prestigious Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University where he received a B.F.A. from their acting program. During this time he was attending blues jams at Kingston Mines Blues Club, jamming with jazz guitar students from the near by music school, and playing pop rock with the band The Excitable Boys. After graduation Oscar exercised his acting muscles and performed roles in films, television, plays, and commercials. He relocated to Los Angeles in 1990 and appeared in such films as I Love Trouble starring Julia Roberts, Life starring Eddie Murphy, and A Few Good Men starring Jack Nicholson. He also appeared in numerous commercials and TV shows such as Seinfeld, China Beach, Melrose Place, and ER.
It was during his short tenure as co-director of the Los Angeles chapter of The Black Rock Coalition that Oscar underwent a holy blues conversion. "I was at a Black Rock Coalition concert and the lead guitarist for a band was playing frantically and flailing his long dreadlocks around in a circle over his head in a wide arc. I had an epiphany. I thought to myself, "He's going to look really silly doing this when he's 50. I wanted to invest my energy into music that was timeless." After immersing himself in the guitar styles of Albert Collins, Little Jimmy King, and Luther Allison, Oscar formed a blues band. He later studied at The National Guitar Summer Workshop, and won a scholarship to the American Film Institute's Screen Writing Program for his original screenplay Derrick.
His first album, the critically acclaimed Mister Bad Luck, was released in 2001. "Mister Bad Luck was a reaction to all the blues albums I hated. Instead of having a blues artist be forced into a stylistic corner for marketing purposes, I wanted to write an album that covered more than one narrow facet of the blues. Blues is bigger than any one style. Miles Davis playing "All Blues" is just as valid as Muddy Waters playing "Got My Mojo Workin."
As a music journalist Oscar also contributed to such publications as Univibes, Vintage Guitar, Mojo, and Music Connection Magazine. In July of 2004 his second album Eclectic Soul was released and draws from his life experience and many influences to create a fresh and varied collection of original compositions. While his connection to the blues is still evident, Oscar adds to the mix other ingredients such as funk, rock, Latin, gospel, r&b, and jazz; weaving a diverse tapestry of solid material.
"Who grows up with a strict diet of blues? When I began compiling songs for Eclectic Soul, it seemed like a bunch of great songs that should be on different albums. I later came to realize that it was because contemporary albums are so genre specific. On a heavy rock album you get heavy rock, on a blues album you get blues. Eclectic Soul is a throw back to rock albums of the 60's and 70's. Those albums had stylistic leaps from song to song. Bands like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Traffic, showed us a wider musical picture. You heard the heaviest rock song, an acoustic composition, and after that blues. Eclectic Soul is an honest musical creation. It's not about labels and name tags. It's just good music."
Oscar continues to play live dates with his band The Mighty Sons of Hercules, working as a freelance writer for music publications, and writing screenplays.
|Copyright 2006 - Oscar Jordan|