****RINGER OF THE WEEK****Christian Sands: Reach

Mentored by Billy Taylor, pianist Christian Sands brings a classic approach to his music as he mixes and matches his originals with a team of Marcus Baylor/dr, Gilad Hekselman/g, Christian McBride/b, Yasushi Nakamura/b, Cristian Rivera/perc and Marcus Strickland/ts-bcl.

In the trio format, he sounds confident and in control as he brings a fugue into to the bopping “Armando’s Song” and builds up to a rousing climax on  “Song of the Rainbow People.” Guitarist Hekselman adds a dash of Pat Metheny-inspired electric wiring to “Reaching For The Sun” while Nakamura hits hard and his ex-boss  McBride brings a hip solo to the rocking and blue “Use Me.” With Strickland’s reeds, Sands paints a dreamy atmosphere on “Freefall,” and gets hip on the driving and crisp “Pointing West,” even delving into a hip hop groove on “Gangstalude.”

I caught Sands when he was a sideman for Christian McBride a few years ago and was impressed then by his chops and moxie. This album shows he’s ready to lead on his own.

Mack Avenue



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