Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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Chris Standring: PizzaExpress Jazz Club, Soho 27/2/20

Chris 1
Chris 1

Chris Standring is a savvy musician, he saw his opportunity and headed stateside, some years back and decided to carve a niche across the pond,(just like pianist Jon Cleary) and has made the US his home and his calling. Tonight, promoting his new forthcoming album 'Real Life' the prodigal son returned and was in fine form, honed and match fit.

Backed by a crack ace UK band that was rehearsed and ready,the stage was seemingly set for some free-flowing smooth (as a baby's bottom) jazz and Standring certainly delivered with his swathes of gorgeous jazz guitar. Like a chirpy headmaster addressing an assembly, he knows how to run things and take control especially kicking off with the upbeat,' Shake You Up' with its delightful double stops head. It reminded me of 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World' by Tears For Fears, not so much harmonically but the two-chord vamp and shuffle beat made me draw comparisons.

In all my years of reviewing I'd heard about bassist, Orefo Orakwu but never seen him live. He was holding it down like a sailor in a force 9 gale, but alas, never given the opportunity to solo unlike the majestic drum vamps of Westley Joseph who was given free reign. His samba beats were a particular marvel too.

Incognito's Vanessa Haynes made a welcome change to the instrumentals with the slow jam funkiness of 'Living The Poetry'.Here is a natural singer with oodles of class and an innate sense of performance, never over-egging or getting caught up in melismatic gesturing. She puts the melody across with shades of the great Aretha guiding her.

Standring is very much his own man despite his stringent bandleader qualities (one keys solo only!) Never the less, he is convincing especially as I used to have a problem with smooth jazz. To me, it was bad pop-instrumental records, full of maudlin themes, robotic rhythms, empty virtuosity and a reliance on the obvious. Fortunately, your man on his gleaming white guitar has debunked that myth and has ably demonstrated how it can be done right.
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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