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Chris Standring: Velvet

Robert Spencer By

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Chris Standring is an English guitarist with classical training and a predilection for smooth funk-jazz grooves. His contempo guitar sound has turned up already on recordings by Bebe and Cece Winans, Jody Watley, Omar, the Solsonics, Carole Bayer Sager and Rick Braun.

He's played with Braun, Marc Antoine, Patti Austin, Bob James, Dave Koz, Richard Elliott, Boney James, Peter White, Kirk Whalum, and Al Stewart. Trumpeter Braun and smoothie tenor man Kirk Whalum appear with him on Velvet, his debut CD as a leader.

Velvet is. That is, it's a collection of laid-back playing by Standring and his mates over a set of deep funky grooves, creating a pleasing tension and a sense of the calm at the eye of the storm. Standring is fine throughout this disc, but "Sneaky" is a particular showcase for his groove-laden, bluesy approach, which is set perfectly over a Steely Dan-like keyboard foundation. Braun shines on "Cool Shades," with a mellow flugel tone; Whalum's moment comes on "Solitaire," and he is as smooth as ever on tenor.

Velvet is cool, groove-laden, and danceable. A smooth start for Chris Standring.

Title: Velvet | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Instinct Records

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