May 7, 2017
I’m saying it here and now – Reach is the album that makes Christian Sands a star.
Those “in the know” in jazz are already familiar with the 28 year old pianist, who has been a key member of Christian McBride’s Inside Straight band for the past five years. With the release of his first album for Mack Records (also McBride’s home), he shows that he is ready to be a leader in his own right.\
It was inevitable, as Sands has been tapped by Ben Williams, McBride, Ulysses Owens and Latin Jazz stars Los Hombres Calientes and Bobby Sanabria for gigs and recordings. Reach showcases Sands talents as a front-line pianist, leading a core group that includes bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Marcus Baylor. Rather than attempt a classic piano trio recording, a number of his long-time friends and contemporaries make notable appearances, most notably guitarist Gilad Hekselman, reed man Marcus Strickland, and even his old boss McBride.
The album covers a wide variety of styles, touching on Latin Jazz (“Óyeme”), Hip-Hop (“Gangstalude”), Ballads (“Somewhere Out There”), Soul (“Use Me”) and even a touch of electronica (“Freefall”), CDs this stylistically diverse often fail to be uniformly strong and interesting. Reach is that wonderful exception, as Sands takes the various styles through the prism of his talent, and the end result is nothing less than exceptional jazz. Check out my favorite track, “Song of the Rainbow People,” which takes the piano trio format through a number of changes, producing a shimmering, soulful result.
Podcast 572 is my conversation with Christian Sands, as we discuss our Southern Connecticut roots, the mentorship he was provided by Dr. Billy Taylor, and the differences in playing with perhaps the two best bass players on the planet today – Ben Williams and Christian McBride. Musical selections include “Song of the Rainbow People,” “Freefall,” “Gangstalude,”and “Dream Train” from his work with Christian McBride & Inside Straight on the CD People Music.