Chris Standring – Real Life
by Jeff Becker
British born, L.A. based, contemporary jazz guitarist Chris Standring stands on a platform of hits since the late 90s. The guitarist grew up in the small town of Aylesbury in England, later studying at London College of Music (where he played with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and received a Fellowship Diploma) and writing music for the BBC, including several theatrical orchestrations before moving to Los Angeles in February of 1991. Fast forward Standring has Garnered thirteen Billboard Top 10 singles, with six of them landing in the #1 top slot.
With the release of his thirteenth leader album, he signals the depth of his Real Life journey. The album features Mitchel Forman (piano), Andre Berry (bass), Kevin Axt (upright bass), Matt Rohde, and Hans Zermulen (keyboards), Ronnie Gutierrez (percussion) and drummers Chris Coleman and Dave Karasony.
“Out of the Blue” has a relaxed feel with a syncopated groove bass line. Standring’s warm guitar plays the melody as Zermulen cradles his lines in synth chords. The B section has beautiful octaves in the melody that lead to the guitar solo. Standring does not rush things, he takes his time to build his solo through the form and is always paying attention to tone and melody. The Bridge is a transition to Forman’s piano solo. The band keeps up the serious groove as Forman works his magic. A relaxing selection that is deep in musical content, but not distracting with overplaying or overindulgence.
Standring’s arrangement of Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” is given a smooth workover. A full bassline and synth with piano add to the colors. The melody is beautifully played with a relaxed rhythm. An interlude takes us to the guitar solo, and this is some of Standring’s best playing of the date. His lines float across the fretboard and he builds through the changes. Standring’s smooth styling fits perfectly with Hancock’s writing.
Real Life could have given into the twists and turns, and disappointments life sometimes brings, instead Standring focuses on the uplifting, positive explorations with his signature soulful retro sound. Standring tackles all the guitars, keyboards and programming, it is the totality of the entire group that adds the secret sauce to this Real Life accomplishment.