FEATURE: Christian Sands Reaches For The Past With “Gangstalude”

Sharonne Cohen for NOISEY –

At only 27, New York-based jazz pianist & composer Christian Sands is already a five-time Grammy® Award nominee . On April 12th he releases REACH, his debut for Mack Avenue Records, drawing from the past while looking to the future. With a range of styles and a distinct mix of influences from Afro-Cuban rhythms to hip-hop beats, Sands says the album is “really all about finding myself.” Raised in New Haven, Connecticut, Sands found himself drawn to music at a very early age.


His mother listened to everything from gospel to country to Ray Charles, his father explored jazz. Tackling the piano at four, he composed his first piece of music at five and was playing professionally by the age of ten. Attending prestigious New Haven art schools, Sands went on to earn Bachelor of Arts and Masters degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, where he received his first Grammy® nomination (Best Latin Piano Solo) for Kenya Revisited.

While still in high school, Sands met legendary jazz pianist, composer, and educator Dr. Billy Taylor (1921-2010) and became his protégé, while listening to the Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, John Legend, Outkast and Nas. At 20, he caught the attention of renowned jazz bassist Christian McBride, who asked Sands to sit in with his band at New York’s famed Village Vanguard; this performance led to a permanent spot in McBride’s Inside Straight Trio. Sands went on to share the stage with giants such as Wynton Marsalis, Diane Reeves, Shelia E, and Randy Brecker, playing festivals and venues around the world. Both Marsalis and Vanity Fair named him a rising jazz star.

REACH features a potent core trio with bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Marcus Baylor, and guest appearances by Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Marcus Strickland (tenor saxophone and bass clarinet), and Cristian Rivera (percussion). McBride, who co-produced the album, makes a cameo at the end of Bill Withers’ 1972 soul classic “Use Me” (one of two covers; all other tracks are Sands originals). Sands is skilled, soulful and melodic throughout, his energy and spirit altering with each tune.

Read the full article and interview at Noisey

Christian Sands on TKA