Album Remarks & Appraisals:
All About Jazz - Jeff Winbush
At some point during every artist's career, if they truly consider themselves as artists, they must ask themselves a question of truth. This question is not so much, "Am I following the truth?" but rather "Am I following my truth?"
The answer to this question goes a long way in determining whether the artist plays it safe and stays in their comfort zone, or takes the bolder, but potentially more interesting and satisfying course of following their muse wherever it takes them. For multi-instrumentalist Chris Standring, the answer seems to be to make only the music that moves him. It's a smart choice.
Standring is a skilled guitarist who understands that what you don't play matters as much as what you do. Standring's Blue Bolero (Ultimate Vibe, 2010) marked a radical departure for him as he decided to finally make the guitar-and-strings themed record he had long aspired to do. Bolero won him the best reviews of his career and Electric Wonderland should do likewise. The native son of England carries on with the string quartet, but sets aside his jazz guitar for a Fender Stratocaster because, as he explains, "The Fender strat gives you an electric quality." ... read more...
Audio Mixer: Chris Standring.
Liner Note Author: Chris Standring.
Recording information: Barry Paul Recording, North Hollywood, CA; Rhodes Ave, Studio City, CA.
Photographer: Tim Sabatino.
Arranger: Chris Standring.
Buoyed by the success of his first guitar/strings-themed album, Blue Bolero, British jazz-soul multi-instrumentalist Chris Standring adopts a similarly adventurous method for its follow-up, Electric Wonderland, by abandoning his usual plucked acoustic style for a fingerpicking Fender Stratocaster approach. It's a move that results in arguably his most expressive and playful record to date, its ten original instrumentals drifting from seductive bossa nova ("Oliver's Twist") to infectious brass-led soul ("Almost September") to dreamy lounge-funk ("Castle in the Sky") with the effortlessness and grace that fans of his smooth contemporary sound have become accustomed to. The funky grooves, wah-wah riffs, and vocodered vocal loops of "Pandora's Box" and the languid acid jazz of "Wishful Thinking" are affectionate nods to his Solar System background, while the mellow blues of "Nightingale's Bridge" and the stripped-back shuffle of "Heart of the Matter" are tender romantic numbers likely to have many listeners hearts aflutter. But it's when Standring fully utilizes his newfound love of the string quartet that the album flourishes, whether it's the suitably amusement park-style waltz of "Merry Go Round," the skittering drum'n'bass of "Escapade," or the percussive new age of "All That Glitters." A convincing foray into new territory, Electric Wonderland more than lives up to its name. ~ Jon O'Brien