CHRIS STANDRING & KATHRIN SHORR Send Me Some Snow November 8, 2011 Release
Dreaming of a white Christmas but looking for something more musically hip and adventurous than another tired twist on the Irving Berlin standard? This holiday season, you can make a special request of Chris Standring and Kathrin Shorr: Send Me Some Snow. On their warm and inviting first collaborative collection on Ultimate Vibe Recordings, the renowned contemporary jazz guitarist and the award winning folk/pop singer/songwriter celebrate the most wonderful time of the year" with a unique vintage pop/jazz vibe that draws on traditions of the past while blazing new trails for the ever-popular genre. While evoking feelings of nostalgia for days gone by, the ten witty, charming and easy grooving originals make the perfect fresh accompaniment for a whole new set of inspiring Yuletide memories.
Driven by the dynamic blend of Standring's crisp electric and acoustic guitar and Shorr's soulful voice, smart phrasing and clever lyrics, Send Me Some Snow features top L.A. based musicians, including bassist Larry Steen and drummer Dave Karasony, who played on Standring's ambitious, largely autobiographical 2010 recording Blue Boleroa set which spawned the hit radio single Bossa Blue" (the #1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Track of the Year). Other key players complementing Standring and Shorr's exciting chemistry are bassist Dan Lutz, pianist Mitchel Forman and longtime Standring associate Dino Soldo, who adds harmonica magic to Christmas Ain't Christmas" and tenor sax, clarinet and EWI to Mistletoe Moon." Also carrying on the rich textural elements of Blue Bolero, many of the tracks on Send Me Some Snow feature a four piece string quartet featuring two violins, a viola and cello.
While both were enjoying remarkable success in their individual genres, Standring first met Shorr several years ago at a party where he was so blown away by her singing that he grabbed his guitar and joined her. They became close friends over the next several years and Standring decided on a whim to send her a track he had been working on that sounded like the start of a Christmas song. Though she was on a writing retreat working on material for Sweet Talk Radiothe popular folk/pop duo she has with her husband Tim BurlingameShorr came up with a strong melody and unique lyrics. Send Me Some Snow" became the catalyst and eventual title track for what evolved into a full-fledged project.
I had been pondering the idea of recording a Christmas album for a number of years," Standring says, but the thought of recording yet another version of 'Jingle Bells' didn't inspire me in the least. I knew Kate had an affinity for holiday songs and she did a wonderful version of 'Winter Wonderland' at Hotel Caf, so I thought it might be fun to see if she might want to write a Christmas song together. When I sent her the track that developed into 'Send Me Some Snow,' I didn't think it would grow into something this substantial. But everything developed organically. I invited her to my studio and we wrote another, then another. If we had contrived a full album from the start, I don't think it would have been as incredible an experience.
Once we got rolling," the guitarist adds, an overall concept took shape and we focused on vintage sounding original songs with lush string arrangements, old school type vocal sounds, organic drum sounds and upright bassalmost as if you might hear these songs on a classic LP from the 40s or 50s. Throughout the process, it occurred to us, much to our surprise, that we were creating something very original that few if any artists in our genres had done in the past. We couldn't find anyone who had done an entire album of originals with this kind of vintage sound. Our creativity was spurred by the desire to do something fresh and new but that would tug at people's hearts like the standards do. Christmas music has an emotional power like no other to bring on feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality.
Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Standring says that for him, the best part of the experience was when Shorralso British bornbrought over chocolates and tea for him to share. The entire project flowed effortlessly from beginning to end" he says. When you work with someone you vibe so well with, it's like you're coming from the same place creatively. We 'get' each other musically and that's a rare thing to discover." Shorr says, I tried to come at the theme as originally as I could, looking for new ideas that hadn't been done much before. I think the second song we wrote was 'Dear Santa' which is from the perspective of Mrs. Claus and what her Christmas is like every year. That was a good jumping off point for us."
Standring and Shorr launch the set with the title track, featuring a cool shuffling jazz groove behind her whimsical lead vocal and harmonies, all wrapped around the theme of wanting for Christmas the one thing money can't buy. It's a unique twist on the desire for a white Christmas and giving that to the one you love. On Someone's Gonna Get Something (For Christmas)," the duo creates a charming and infectious sing-a-long around the story of a woman who suspects she might be proposed to on this special day. Shorr says, It's an amazing compounding of goodness, offering hope for the future on the perfect day for it." Shorr draws on her extensive folk/pop background for the soulful, jazz inflected romp I've Got A Thing For Jack," as in Frost.
The duo also recognizes that for many, Christmas can be a melancholy time of year, a notion they express beautifully on the graceful and slightly bittersweet Christmas Ain't Christmas." The deep emotions are enhanced by Soldo's harmonica and Standring's thoughtful nylon string lines. They try something edgy on the sassy, funked up pop/rocker Naughty or Nice," creating distortion around Shorr's lead vocal and adding finger snaps and a touch of blues. The gentle, plaintive ballad Dear Santa" was inspired by Shorr's reflection on the loneliness Mrs. Claus must feel being alone on Christmas Eve while her hubby brings joy to kids all over the world. The cleverly titled Mistletoe Moon" is old fashioned holiday fun at its best, a contemporary take on the swinging big band sounds and vocal harmonies (a la The Andrews Sisters) of the past. Shorr describes it as a song that leans towards Christmas but whose sentiment about getting caught up in romance applies throughout the year."
Anyone who lives in sunny climes can relate to the soft folk/pop flavored Christmas in Tinseltown," which is what happens when two artists who live in Southern California write and produce a Christmas recording during the summer when it's 80-90 degrees out. While it includes imagery specific to Hollywood, the track is really about the fact that all the glitz in the world doesn't compare to the glow of love between two people when the lights go down. There's No Time Like Christmas Time" is all about the sights and sounds of Christmas, looking forward to the season and being full of optimism. Send Me Some Snow wraps with the collection's wistful and romantic Through the Holidays," written from the point of view of someone pleading with a lover to love them through the holidays before making any fateful decision about their relationship.
As they raise a toast to their dynamic collaborative recording, Standring and Shorr have a great deal to celebrate this season. One of contemporary urban jazz's most popular artists since the late 90s, Standring in 2010 followed his popular solo recordings Soul Express and Love and Paragraphs with Blue Bolero, a personal, expansive artistic statement (on his own label, Ultimate Vibe) featuring a trio and orchestral arrangements which represented a 180 degree departure from the in the pocket" grooving instrumental style he was best known for. The single Bossa Blue" spent eight weeks at #1 on the Billboard contemporary jazz radio chart and was declared the #1 contemporary jazz track of the year. In 2007, he achieved similar success as the co-writer of the Rick Braun/Richard Elliot hit RnR," which was #1 for over two months.