Playing Time – 41:38 -- Jordan Tice is a young sonic alchemist whose highly-arranged musical elixir is centered around lively flatpicked guitar. With the exception of two tracks (Cuckoo’s Nest, Jean’s Reel/Girls at Martinsfield), Tice also demonstrates his rugged individualism and tunecrafting skills with nine original compositions. A new acoustic pioneer with technically impressive moxie, Jordan Tice’s “No Better Place” is a cut above the rest. The reason is largely because of the illustrious cast of characters who are given plenty of opportunities to strut their stuff on some difficult pieces. These players include Ron Stewart (fiddle), Mike Munford (banjo), Akira Otsuka (mandolin), Mark Schatz (bass), and Sue Raines (fiddle on one cut). Tice colors his musical canvas with paint and hues from the folk, bluegrass, and jazz palette.
From Annapolis, Jordan Tice is a young picker just out of high school who will attend Towson State University on a full music scholarship. His tone on guitar is that of a well-seasoned, exceptional player. His sense of time, balance, rhythm and execution are extraordinary. He drives the music with his dynamic musical pronunciation, and the interplay of the veterans with him is phenomenal. Award-winning Ron Stewart plays his fiddle smoothly, lyrically and effortlessly. Sue Raines also has a silky touch on her bow for her showcased Celtic medley. Munford and Otsuka’s instrumental support is collaborative and supportive in nature, flawlessly executed in their own unique styles without grandstanding. Mark Schatz is right on the money with his bass notes, whether they are plucked or bowed. The title cut which closes the album is a guitar and bass duo featuring a tuneful conversation between Tice and Schatz.
Schatz, from Boston, Philadelphia, Nashville, and now Annapolis, has played bass with Tasty Licks, Spectrum, Tony Rice Unit, Bluegrass Album Band, Tim & Mollie O’Brien, Flatt Heads, & Nickel Creek. The 1994 & 1995 IBMA Bass Player of the Year also plays clawhammer-style banjo that imparts a bit of old-time flavoring to “Cuckoo’s Nest” & “Wicker Basket.” Sleepy Valley Ranch in Paoli, Indiana is Ron Stewart’s home. Before becoming one of bluegrass music’s top session men, he’s worked with Curly Seckler, Gary Brewer & the Kentucky Ramblers, Little Creek, Petticoat Junction, Lynn Morris Band, & now J.D. Crowe & the New South. In 2000, Stewart won IBMA’s Fiddle Player of the Year award.
Jordan Tice’s influences include Strength in Numbers, Bela Fleck, Tony Rice, David Grier, Stuart Duncan, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett and Bill Frisell. It very possible that, with some luck and determination, Jordan Tice’s name will someday be as well known as their’s. Besides touring and recording with Gary Ferguson and Sally Love, Tice has performed with a bluegrass band called Foxes on the Run. His new band, based in Front Royal, Va. is called “Blue Light Special.” Tice says the best way to understand bluegrass (“hillbilly music” he calls it) is just to “listen to it.” The erudite music he plays on “No Place Better” will take a little more reflection and study to fully comprehend the gravity and importance of this instrumental release. (Joe Ross)