English-born California resident Chris Standring kicks off the New Year in Chichester’s Roots Around the World series at the city’s Chichester Inn on Wednesday, January 14 (tickets 01243 783185).
This year he brings with him his new album Don’t talk Dance which reached number one in the US music charts.
The States have been home to Chris for a long time now.
“My move to LA was by no means accidental,” he explains. “I made a trip here in 1980 after leaving school. I was fed up with education and felt like I needed a year off to have a little fun.
“After hitching across America from Miami, I settled in LA as I simply wanted to take in the jazz scene. I would go and see amazing musicians perform at tiny jazz clubs, and the California seed was planted. After nine months I went back to London and enrolled at the London College of Music for three years. Then the next ten years saw me ensconced in the London session scene, and of course I put a band together there too.
“Once in a while I would make little trips back to LA, just stay for around three weeks at a time. Little did I know they ended up being reconnaissance trips.
“The last time I planned a trip (Feb 1991), I decided to book some club dates and was bold enough to call some of the finest musicians in the world to play with me. Then one day a friend of mine told me ‘Chris, you’ve got more gigs in LA than you do here in London. What on earth are you doing coming back?’
“That night I didn’t sleep too well, but the following morning I decided to sell everything I owned and make the big move. Once I had decided, the force was with me and nothing I could do would stop it. That was 23 years ago, and yes, I am now an American citizen and it has definitely become home.
“It goes without saying the weather is fabulous, you know, if you like the sun. I was never a fan of British weather but I honestly don’t think this is the main reason I left. Every one of those trips I made out here when I was living in London was, for the most part, extremely inspirational.
“There was always a youthful optimism and an ambition and drive everywhere that appealed to me. I liked that there were so many creative people here, all with their own hopes and dreams.
“When I lived in England, I didn’t feel spurred on to go after my dreams, even though of course there were plenty of creative people that had made it work there. But at the time there was a fledgling contemporary jazz recording scene in LA, and a good deal of record labels that were releasing jazz albums, and that was particularly appealing because that was the avenue that spoke to me more than any other facet of the music business, even though I was perfectly happy playing for other people too.
“Deep down I had this desire to make records, and I wanted to be in the entertainment capital of the world to do it. The quality of living is high here. It’s an easier life. Of course when I lived in London I was poverty stricken, so my standard of living could have been a great deal higher I’m sure.
“But somebody said to me a long time ago ‘If you are going to be broke, why not at least be broke in the warmth, perhaps sleeping on a beach somewhere.’ That resonated, even though I’m happy to say, I never had to go down that path!”