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Chris Standring: Wonderful World

Jack Bowers BY

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Chris Standring: Wonderful World
Wonderful World, the fourteenth album as leader by British guitarist Chris Standring, was no doubt recorded with the best of intentions. And make no mistake, the music is warm and lovely, furnishing an opulent showcase for Standring's mellow guitar. Aside from that, however, there's not a whole lot to say. Standring's "orchestra" consists of a nineteen-member string section, while Geoff Gascoyne's syrupy arrangements call to mind popular string-laden sessions from the 1950s and '60s, "easy listening" albums for "late-night lovers" designed by Percy Faith, Jackie Gleason, Bobby Hackett and others, except this time there's a guitar leading the way instead of a trumpet, oboe or English horn. It's a step removed from Mantovani or the 101 Strings orchestra.

Besides the strings, Standring is supported on various tracks by bassists Gascoyne, Chuck Berghofer or Darek Oles and drummers Peter Erskine, Harvey Mason or David Karasony, but their primary task is to keep time while the orchestra plays and Standring solos. Berghofer does have one brief solo, on Cole Porter's "Night and Day." Elsewhere, it's basically all Standring all the time, save for a brief guest appearance by flugelhornist Randy Brecker on Standring's slow-breaking "Sunrise." Of the album's eleven tunes, only one—"On Green Dolphin Street"—pushes forward more rapidly than a ballad.

The others—from Jobim's "How Insensitive" to the standards "Autumn in New York," "Falling in Love with Love" and "My Foolish Heart" to "Estate," Burt Bacharach/Hal David's theme from "Alfie" and Donald Fagen's "Maxine"—assume the same hushed and reposeful stance, calmly awaiting the entrance of Standring's genteel and melodious manifestos. The atmosphere is so even-tempered that the drummers could have left their sticks at home, as brushes alone—even "On Green Dolphin Street"—are more than adequate. There is one vocal, by Kathrin Shorr on the title song. As noted, the music is charming, and Standring is a splendid guitarist, but Wonderful World is best suited for those who are happiest living on a diet comprised solely of tender ballads and love songs.

Track Listing

How Insensitive; Night and Day; Autumn in New York; Estate; What a Wonderful World; On Green Dolphin Street; Alfie; Falling in Love with Love; Sunrise; Maxine; My Foolish Heart.

Personnel

Chris Standring: guitar; Geoff Gascoyne: arranger; Randy Brecker: trumpet; Peter Erskine: drums; Harvey Mason: drums; David Karasony: drums; Chuck Berghofer: bass, acoustic; Darek Oles: bass; Kathrin Shorr: voice / vocals.

Album information

Title: Wonderful World | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Ultimate Vibe

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