If jazz is to avoid being relegated to the pit of obsolescence where VCR's, pet rocks and NBC's fall lineup for the last five years has been consigned to it won't be enough to simply continue catering to the true believers and faithful die-hards that currently maintains the genre. Jazz will have to go places it hasn't been before and go after potential listeners who think of it as the music their grandparents listened to.
One of those places are clubs where people gather not to be hipsters draining their glasses of wine and proclaiming how the masses didn't "get" Coltrane and Mingus the way they do, but to sweat, to move and to groove to music that makes them not simply nod along approvingly, but actually get up on the floor and bust a move. Too many musicians have grown afraid of changing up their groove they forget a groove can quickly turn into a rut.
Don't Talk, Dance! is Chris Standring's latest left turn since he decided to change course from standard smooth jazz to deeper explorations into extended improvisation, string quartets, classical, now deep danceable grooves that incorporates his varied musical tastes including electronica, drum and bass, trip-hop and funky beats and make no mistake, Standring isn't half-steppin' on his commitment to aggressive infuse dance beats into his jazz guitar playing. That same "all or nothing at all" approach he brought to Blue Bolero (Ultimate Vibe, 2010) and Electric Wonderland (Ultimate Vibe, 2012) blends seamlessly into the propulsive Don't Talk, Dance!
Standring is more than ably assisted by his regular bandmates, keyboardist Rodney Lee, bassist Andre Berry and drummer Dave Karsony and while live drums are becoming an endangered species in music today, along with Karsony, no less than six more drummers are called to duty here. The four-piece string quartet (two violins, viola and cello) Standring applied to good purpose on his last two recordings return on five tracks as does a horn section on "Inside Outside" and "Another Fine Mess."
It's hard to choose the stand-out track here as Chris' Excellent Adventure takes both him and the listener through an adventurous exploration of various styles including Euro-styled drum/bass chill, ambient trance, electronic dance music and dubstep. The funkiness of the opener, "Sky High" gives Lee a showcase for his skills on the Fender Rhodes and organ while the shimmering shuffle of "Inside Outside" is an irresistible groove monster. Joey Heredia's drums on "Voices In My Head" will compel heads to bob and toes to tap. The aptly named "Crazy Bom Baizy" is where Standring pulls out all the stops and goes solo playing all the instruments on a tripped out workout that never stops jamming as if Sun Ra returned from outer space with a weird remix of dubstep and electronica. The party slows down for a mid-tempo tune, "Ride" where Lauren Christy contributes a sly, soulful vocal where she questions a potential suitor if he's old enough to go where she might take him.
In an age where many musicians are content to recycle the same patented riffs time and again with different titles, it's rewarding to hear one who keeps going beyond expectations as Standring does here. Don't be surprised when Don't Talk, Dance! ends up appearing high on numerous 2014 "Best of" lists.
Sky High; Inside Outside; Sneakin’ Out the Front Door; Voices In My Head; Soul Symphony; Another Fine Mess; Crazy Bom Baizy; Ride; Absolute Madness; Yesterday’s Heaven; Imagine That; Scatterfunk; Nothing Lasts Forever
Chris Standring: guitars, keyboards, programming, vocals, talkbox; Rodney Lee: Fender Rhodes, organ (1, 3, 4, 6, 11, 12); Andre Berry: bass (1-6, 8, 9, 12); Dave Salinas: drums (1); Janelle Sadler: vocals (1, 3, 5); Nikki Garcia: violin (1, 5, 12, 13); Barbra Porter: violin (1, 5, 12, 13); Tom Tally: viola (1, 5, 12, 13); Cameron Stone: cello (1, 5, 12, 13) ; Guy Richman: drums (2); Doug Webb: tenor sax (2, 6) ; Chris Tedesco: trumpet (2, 6) ; Steve Sidwell: trumpet (2, 6); Nick Lane: trombone (2, 6); Sergio Gonzales: drums (3, 8); Joey Heredia: drums (4); David Karsony: drums (5, 6, 12); Lauren Christy: vocals (8); Neil Steubenhaus: bass (10); Eric Valentine: drums (10, 11); Chris Blondal: drums (13)