Artist: Christian Sands
Label: Mack Avenue Records
Release Date: 04.28.2017
Pianist Christian Sands offers up a Mack Avenue Records debut, Reach, featuring a musical influence and style range from Afro-Cuban beats to hip-hop, to thumps, to dirty blues with authority. Reach contains eight originals and two covers with a core trio of Sands, bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Marcus Baylor, with special guests: Gilad Hekselman on guitar, Marcus Strickland on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet and percussionist Cristian Rivera. McBride makes a cameo appearance, bowing his bass at the end of “Use Me.”
Reach opens with a rumba-influenced track, “Armando’s Song,” that features the core trio. Sands plays the melody by himself for the first chorus with the band joining for the second chorus. His lines are clear and strong with a staccato percussive force that is an obvious nod to Chick Corea. In fact, the tune has many harmonic and melodic similarities to Corea’s “Armando’s Rumba.” Sands rhythmic interaction with Baylor’s kit is a highlight.
“Use Me” features guest guitarist Hekselman. Opening with a slow funky groove, the feel transitions to a slow-medium swing for Hekselman’s solo. Choosing to use a warm distorted tone, he builds the solo with melodic fast runs and ample chromatic twist. Returning the original feel, Sands solo is full of the gospel spirit and grooves hard. McBride’s bowing is excellent at the end of the tune with Hekselman providing excellent voicings and colors.
Reach is sure to have something for any jazz fan with many styles and twist and turns. The one consistent factor is Sands excellent musicianship and mastery of telling a convincing musical story.