Pianist Christian Sands Manifests New Experiences Stretching Into Progressive New Territory on Mack Avenue Records Debut, REACH – Available April 21
Five-Time Grammy® Award Nominee is Joined By Marcus Strickland, Gilad Hekselman, Yasushi Nakamura, Marcus Baylor, Cristian Rivera and Special Guest/Co-Producer Christian McBride
With his debut Mack Avenue Records recording, REACH, singularly talented pianist and five-time Grammy® Award nominee Christian Sands is stretching into exciting progressive territory as he breaks new ground traversing from the straight-ahead zone into fresh-sounding music influenced by a range of styles, from Afro-Cuban rhythms to hip-hop beats to dirty blues with an edge. That’s impressive for a youngster who is just 27. “The collection here is about reaching new ideas and reaching new music,” he says. “I’m reaching from past recordings to bring in the future, which is really all about finding myself. It’s a chance to express my experience.”
REACH becomes one more milestone in Sands’ auspicious career that stretches back to his New Haven, Connecticut upbringing. Beginning music classes and composing his first piece at age five, he quickly became a professional by ten. Sands was well-prepared to attend such prestigious schools as the Neighborhood Music School and the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven (he later received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music).
But a key moment came when he attended the Jazz in July summer workshop at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst when he was in high school. That was where he met and began his mentorship with Dr. Billy Taylor. “I was 13 or 14 and I studied with Dr. Taylor,” Sands says. “After the first week, he asked me to stay a second. I went on to take private lessons with him and master classes. He became my music grandfather; I went to his house in the Bronx and we’d talk about different music such as his piano heroes like Art Tatum and then bands I was listening to, including The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, John Legend and he was hip to all this.”
The recording is co-produced by Grammy® Award-winning producer Al Pryor and famed bassist Christian McBride, who Sands has collaborated with in his Grammy® Award-winning trio, as well as some of McBride’s other groups, since 2009. “Upon first meeting Christian, I could feel a cool connection,” Sands recalls. “From when I first sat in with his Inside Straight band, I realized that we think about music in the same way. When I got signed to Mack Avenue, I asked if Christian could produce me, as someone who knows my playing and what I want to accomplish in my music.”
Sands has assembled a stellar trio here, including bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Marcus Baylor. The album also features guests Gilad Hekselman on guitar, Marcus Strickland on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet and percussionist Cristian Rivera. He even convinced McBride to make a cameo appearance, bowing his bass at the end of the slow tempo “Use Me.”
With a record deal in hand, Sands set out to make a grand artistic entry with REACH, which includes eight originals and two covers.
“Actually, my biggest influence in making this album was Michael Jackson’s Bad record,” he says. “There are so many different kinds of tunes on that, so many changes. So that’s what I was setting out to do.”
Christian Sands · REACH
Mack Avenue Records · Release Date: April 21, 2017
For more information on Christian Sands, please visit: ChristianSandsJazz.com