Guitarist Chris Standring turns in an unusually ambitious set with Blue Bolero, one that often seems to transcend the designation of jazz, smooth or otherwise, and aspire more to classical crossover. Standring signals his intentions by beginning with an eight-minute "Overture" (there is also a "Finale" at the end), and goes on to a varied set of tracks, the titles of which tend to suggest their rhythms and tempos: "Blue Bolero," "Fast Train to Everywhere," "Bossa Blue," "March of the Bowler Hats." It's important to note that the frequent use of the word "blue" does not indicate "blues," as it might be expected to in jazz, but rather that the music is in a minor key and a subdued mood. Particularly in "Fast Train to Everywhere," but also elsewhere, Standring employs string patterns (violin by Barbara Porter) as major musical elements and introduces found sounds -- street atmospherics and PA announcements -- in the background, as if the music were being played in a train station or airport. He also duets with a flute (Katisse Buckingham) on "Please Mind the Gap," and performs a delicate solo acoustic piece with the brief "Regarding Techwick." Although there are parts of the album that conform to the usual sound of contemporary jazz, much of the music sounds composed, and it is often less suggestive of jazz than of the music of, say, Laurie Anderson or even Philip Glass. It sounds like Standring is ready to move beyond his niche.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann