Continuing in the vein of his 1998 CD, Velvet, is the thickly blues-based and more self-assured Hip Sway. Beautifully invoking a sense of old-school jazz sensibilities, Hip Sway mixes acid-jazz ambience and the powerful soul touches of coproducer Rodney Lee. The title track finds Standring echoing his muted Wes Montgomery-bound melody with wah-wah punch lines, then duetting casually with the eager tenor of Richard Elliot before exploding into an irresistible brassy hook--all over Lee's moody blue synth harmony. "Glamour Girls" features a propelling vamp reminiscent of Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder" under Standring's note-for-note duet with tenorman Dino Soldo, while Lee does double duty on a Hammond B-3 solo over the synth-created vamp.
Fast forwarding to the present, Standring invokes a bit of ambient master Brian Eno on "What Is Is," as he and Lee exchange distant, distorted melody lines over a spaced-out synth wash as Dave Karasony's train-track drum patter continues to hypnotize. Ditto the gentle hypnosis on a cover of 10cc's mystical "I'm Not in Love"; Standring doesn't do much improvising with the melody, but his alternating guitar tones and the enveloping atmosphere--complete with barely audible synth horns--are just like, well, Velvet. --Jonathan Widran
My favorite so far is "Small Talk". I don't know about you, but this kind of music makes me want to explore all of this musician's work. That is one great thing about jazz, it doesn't usually get dated if it is really good to begin with. This is one of those CD's that you will want to listen to again and again. Reminds me of a slightly upbeat Pat Methany on "Ultraviolet". "Smile's" funky sound does make me smile ;) Your hips will sway with Hip Sway. Guaranteed!