A sharper direction on this new release, not to mention an all-star backing cast, helps Stanley Jordon overcome many of the stereotypes that have dogged him since rising to fame in the early 1980s. Back then, Jordan was riding a wave of attention over his use of a eye-poppingly fast guitar string-tapping technique, but ultimately — save for a few notable moments like, say, his interestingly playful take on the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” to open his 1984 debut Magic Touch — Jordan always felt more talented than he was good. There was a lot of pyrotechnics, but often in front of a slushily mundane fusion backdrop, and more often still without a clear sense of purpose. Not so on Friends, to be issued Sept. 27 on Mack Avenue. Coupled this time with guests including Regina Carter, Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride, Nicholas Payton and Mike Stern, Jordan displays both the expected wonderment, but also an involving focus. Oh, and in a nod to that earlier crossover pop success, he also takes an interesting run at Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” this time alongside a blazing Charlie Hunter.