20 Jul Jazz guitarist Chris Standring to release first large ensemble standards album ‘Wonderful World’
Jazz guitarist Chris Standring has announced the long-awaited release of his 13th album ‘Wonderful World’. The record not only marks his first collection of jazz standards, but also his first ever large-ensemble record, featuring a full orchestra. ‘Wonderful World’ will be released on September 3rd 2021 via Ultimate Vibe / Lateralize Records.
In an illustrious career that stretches back over the last 25 years, Chris Standring has earned a reputation as one of the world’s most virtuosic guitarists, yet whatever musical waters he has dived into, he has never quite managed to shake off the perception that he is a ‘mainstream’ jazz artist. Although he has always focused solely on the music rather than the pigeonholes people have put him in, in many ways, this is the record he was destined to make from the very moment he first picked up a guitar.
Growing up in Buckinghamshire, he was introduced to orchestral music by his mother, who adored Beethoven and Schubert. Whilst he has enjoyed huge commercial success in the contemporary jazz world, he had always dreamed of releasing an album of orchestral standards.
“I’ve had an affinity for strings for as long as I can remember,” Standring explains. “The idea of doing an album of Great American Songbook standards with a trio and orchestra came to me a few years ago, but the ambition and the huge expense kept the project on the back burner. When Covid hit, I had no gigs in the diary, so with time on my hands, I started to seriously study the art of writing for strings.”
After cutting a demo at his studio in Los Angeles, Standring approached Geoff Gascoyne to write the string arrangements, leaving him free to focus on playing the guitar. His fantasy finally came to fruition when he enlisted some of the world’s finest jazz musicians and recorded the orchestra live in Studio Two at Abbey Road in London.
“I wanted to give the orchestra lots of space to shine but still play a very supportive role to the melody, and I wanted all the harmony to come from the strings. In that sense, it was vital that the rhythm section instrumentation was sparse – which meant no piano – and the trio format gave me much more space to play guitar.
“I then called up the finest musicians I knew – Randy Brecker, Peter Erskine, Harvey Mason, Darek Oleszkiewicz, David Karasony and Chuck Berghofer alongside Kathrin Shorr, who sang the stunning sultry vocals on What A Wonderful World. In March 2021, we recorded the orchestra in Studio Two at Abbey Road in London – the final piece of this jigsaw. When everything came together, it sounded spellbinding and utterly timeless. From beginning to end, it really has been a dream come true.”
‘Wonderful World’, his 13th studio album, finds Standring at the very peak of his powers. With the help of some of the world’s best jazz musicians and a set of sublime arrangements by Geoff Gascoyne, he manages to breathe fresh life into these magical, ageless songs, somehow making them sound both old and new at the same time. Although you can hear echoes of George Benson, Grant Green and Pat Martino in his deceptively simple style, Chris Standring’s mellifluous sound is unmistakable.
‘Wonderful World’ will be released on CD and limited-edition heavyweight vinyl through Ultimate Vibe / Lateralize Records on 3rd September 2021