With great reason and enthusiasm, much ado will be made of contemporary urban jazz guitarist and hitmaker extraordinaire Chris Standring sharing the soulful musical beauty of a Wonderful World on his transcendent new recording.
Venturing boldly off the “smooth jazz” treadmill, he applies his exquisite, warmhearted tones and vibrantly soulful sense of romance and swing to some of the world’s best loved Songbook standards (“How Insensitive,” “Night and Day,” “Green Dolphin Street,” “Alfie,” et al) plus the slightly more obscure “Maxine” from Donald Fagen’s masterpiece Nightfly and the dreamy, hopeful original “Sunrise,” featuring the inimitable wafting trumpet of Randy Brecker.
Complementing a spirited rhythm section (alternating Peter Erskine, Harvey Mason and Dave Karasony on drums, and Chuck Berghofer, Darek Oles and Geoff Goscoyne on bass), he tapped Goscoyne to create lush, caressing arrangements and conduct a 19 piece string orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. Standring tops all this tenderly intricate and sweetly uplifting artistry by inviting longtime collaborator Kathrin Shorr to work her dusky, sultry and sensual vocal magic to “What A Wonderful World.”
Yet longtime Standring fans know that as unique and adventurous as this album is, it’s not the first time the guitarist has wowed with his itching desire to explore beyond the tight grooves and infectious melodies that populate his radio friendly discography. Just over a decade ago, Standring paved the way for more immersive and expansive jazz explorations with Blue Bolero, which also featured his stunning guitar work and inviting melodies bedded by lush string arrangements.
Standring is such a multi-talented force that even that attempt to go off the beaten path still resulted in his song “Bossa Blue” to become the #1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Track of the Year. Fans of his trademark style – best defined by the titles of his tracks “Hip Sway” and “Groovalicious” – will no doubt enjoy Standring’s latest venture into more traditional jazz stylings.
After a very challenging, anxiety filled year, it’s a beautiful thing when an artist who can do it all reminds us, with such emotional impact, that the journey isn’t always easy, but we get to do it in a Wonderful World.