Marc Jordan: “Waiting for the Sun to Rise”

April 19, 2024

I often long for the golden age of albums in which the recording was a cohesive artistic statement into which thought, passion, art, and craft were poured, resulting in work that was substantially more than the sum of its tracks. It was the time when singers and producers and creative musicians like The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Jimmy Webb, George Martin, Marvin Gaye, and so many others gave the world works of power and beauty and intelligence.

In the digital age in which we find ourselves, a listener can usually pick and choose from random songs strung together with little thought of mood or narrative; often there are different creative teams on each track so there is not even a consistent sound or feel to the recording. Even worse (or better depending on your point of view, and probably your age) the tracks can be purchased and streamed as individual entities. 

Fortunately, there are still some stalwart recording artists who realize the value of an album over a single song, just as there are readers and writers who still appreciate the artistry of a novel over a collection of short stories.  Canada’s Marc Jordan has given the world an honest-to-goodness album with his new release, Waiting for the Sun to Rise.

One of our northern neighbor’s best kept secrets, Jordan has had an extensive career in music, releasing albums steadily since his debut, Mannequin, in 1978, and refining his personal, jazz-folkstyle into a unique voice that has only deepened and broadened over the years. Born in Brooklyn, his emigrated to Toronto and he became a singer-songwriter, record producer, session musician, and actor. His songs have been sung by the likes of Diana Ross, Bette Midler, Cher, Rod Stewart, and Bonnie Raitt, yet he remains virtually unknown in the United States. I happened upon his 1993 release, Reckless Valentine, and immediately became a fan, buying everything he had previously recorded that I could find, as I am wont to do. I have looked forward with great anticipation to each of his subsequent albums (there have been 16 so far) and have yet to be disappointed. 

He has a special affinity for jazz/pop, and any number of his original songs reference, quote, or comment on jazz giants and/or styles. He has exquisite taste in covers as well; his Both Sides album features his take on the Great American Songbook, including “Both Sides Now,” “The Nearness of You,” “People Get Ready,” “Wild Horses,” and others; it is an ideal starting point to discover this major talent. This new album, filled with gorgeous originals and exquisite covers (complete with a musical prelude and an orchestral interlude), is a close second. Sharing production and arranging with pianist Lou Pomanti, Jordan wrote (or co-wrote) seven of the tracks, but everything comes together as one unified vision. Top-flight musicians abound, with haunting string work by the Prague Smecky Orchestra throughout. 

The prelude is provided by “The Last Buffalo” (Pomanti), leading directly into the gentle romance of “Best Day of My Life” (Jordan, Steven MacKinnon), deepened by Randy Brecker’s trumpet. “Coltrane Plays the Blues” (Jordan, John Capek) follows; it is an insinuating noir-ishly urban tale scored by the classic jazz sound of Pomanti on piano, Marc Rogers on bass and Paul Leim on drums. The “character” that the singer presents in these opening songs guides us through the rest of the recording with a bracing blend of literary allusions and the nighttime rhythms of the city. If Kerouac had chosen singing over writing, here is what he might have sounded like. The poetry of the moving “Waiting for the Sun to Rise” (Jordan, Capek) is positively hypnotic, over the slow build of the orchestra rising like the sun in the title. 

The majestic sweep of Pomanti’s “Frontier” provides a broad canvas for “Rio Grande” (Jordan, MacKinnon) which is immediately brought down to earth by Roly Platt’s harmonica. The overall effect is a collaboration between Aaron Copland and Randy Newman. It’s extraordinary. Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (Chris Hughes, Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley) fits right in and gains a sophisticated polish in Jordan’s hands. Jimmy Webb’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” is an even more impressive cover transformed by the raw desolation of the vocal growing to a wail of pain, cushioned by the soothing strings and Pomanti’s haunting piano.  The Blue Nile’s “The Downtown Lights” (Paul Buchanan) caps the trio of covers with an arrangement and performance that gives the already great song a welcome heft and passion. 

Each stop along the way on the journey that is this album has been preparing the listener for the healing self-realization and self-acceptance of “Cradle to the Grave” (Jordan, Pomanti). Marc Jordan’s Waiting for the Sun to Rise offers the emotional and dramatic satisfaction of a great book or a great film. It is a major album demanding to be taken as a whole and rewarding those who heed that demand.  It is a masterwork. 



About the Author

Gerry Geddes has conceived and directed a number of musical revues—including the Bistro- and MAC Award-winning "Monday in the Dark with George" and "Put On Your Saturday Suit-Words & Music by Jimmy Webb"—and directed many cabaret artists, including André De Shields, Helen Baldassare, Darius de Haas, and drag artist Julia Van Cartier. He directs "The David Drumgold Variety Show," currently in residence at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, and has produced a number of recordings, including two Bistro-winning CDs. He’s taught vocal performance at The New School, NYU, and London’s Goldsmith’s College and continues to conduct private workshops and master classes. As a writer and critic, he has covered New York’s performing arts scene for over 40 years in both local and national publications; his lyrics have been sung by several cabaret and recording artists. Gerry is an artist in residence at Pangea, and a regular contributor to the podcast “Troubadours & Raconteurs.” He just completed a memoir of his life in NYC called “Didn’t I Ever Tell You This?”