August 1, 2000

 


CHRIS STANDRING: HIP 'N' SMOOTH

(Interview by Charles Waring (taken from Blues & Soul Magazine, issue 822)

California-based guitarist, Chris Standring, has really found his niche within the Smooth Jazz arena after two acclaimed solo CDs, Velvet and his new set Hip Sway. I grabbed a few words with Chris who appeared with Boney James and Rick Braun at the Jazz FM Hot Summer Nights Jazz Flavour gigs at the Shepherd's Bush Empire earlier this month.

"The new album is doing well in the US Smooth Jazz Radio and Record Chart, and is currently number 12" related an understandably happy Chris. "I understand it's doing quite well in the UK and that Jazz FM are doing a fantastic job in promoting the CD.

"Originally I'm from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, and when I was 20 I visited L.A. taking a year out from my studies. I used to hang out at this club called "The Baked Potato", so I could listen to great jazz guitarists like Larry Carlton when they were in town. I came back to London for a further three years to complete my classical guitar studies at the London School Of Music. But this was little more than an excuse to be in London and practice playing jazz all day long. It's strange, back then I would listen to Robbie Vincent on Radio London - now he's playing my tunes. I would like to thank Robbie for all his support, and look forward to buying him a pint when I'm in the UK.

"I returned to L.A. in '91, having spent 10 years or so on the session scene playing Jazz Fusion, but by then I'd had enough and wanted to go to the US to play guitar with my heroes. So I flew out and, hey, I'm still there.

"I recorded an album in '96 for Sonic Records with a group called Solar System, that had some success on the Acid Jazz scene. I was playing in Rick Braun's band at the time and with Marc Antoine before that. We did the Guitar & Saxes tour in the US, and in 1998 I signed to Instinct Records who released my debut solo album Velvet, which really got me into the game.

"With my second album Hip Sway, I feel I have found my voice and my stance as an artist, whereas with Velvet I was still finding my feet. I've always had my own band; it's one thing getting out there and playing live, it's quite another creating my own music on record. I still regard myself as a rookie.

"The title of the new album came from a friend of mine. It was bothering me as it's always beneficial to have a good album title. He suggested Hip Sway more as an off-the-cuff thing but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it since it evokes things that I'm trying to get across with the music. It's pretty funky and there's a dancefloor influence too. And then there's the soul and jazz implied in the title. My favorite song on the album is "Georgina". it's hard to do instrumental ballads when you play a jazz festival and people are shouting and screaming; it's difficult to keep the audience captivated."

Although written prior to the gigs themselves, I'm sure this genial gent will have had little difficulty on that score at the Hot Summer Nights of Jazz Flavour gigs.