Our main stage headliner for the 33rd New Haven Jazz Festival is four time Grammy nominee, local son, and emerging jazz piano force, Christian Sands Quartet! Recently Christian has been touring the world with the Christian McBride Trio!
Christian Sands — Steinway Artist and four-time Grammy Nominee — is an emerging jazz force. His abundant piano technique perfectly matches his conception, accomplishing a much deeper musical goal: a fresh look at the entire language of jazz. Christian says, “My music is about teaching the way of jazz and keeping it alive.” Whether it’s stride, swing, bebop, progressive, fusion, Brazilian or Afro-Cuban, Sands develops the past while providing unusual and stimulating vehicles for the present … and for the future. He expresses himself through an extensive vocabulary of patterns, textures and structures, all the while maintaining a strong sense of understatement, sensitivity, taste and swing — hallmarks for as long as he has been playing.
From a very early age, Christian possessed an insatiable appetite for music. He was enrolled in music classes at age 4 and wrote his first composition at age 5. He started playing professionally at the age of 10, and studied at the Neighborhood Music School and the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, CT. He received his Bachelor of Arts and Masters degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. For his participation on the MSM “Kenya Revisited” album, Sands received a Grammy Nominations for Best Latin Piano Solo.
His meteoric rise in the jazz world already includes performances with the legendary Oscar Peterson and Dr. Billy Taylor. He met Dr. Billy Taylor at the Jazz in July program in 2006, and formed an immediate connection. Dr. Taylor dubbed him his protégé, and Christian has followed in his mentor’s footsteps by encouraging, inspiring and advocating for the preservation and history of jazz. He teaches and promotes the passion and richness of jazz to young people as well as to mature audiences. In 2015 he started the Jazz Kids of Montmartre in Copenhagen, Denmark, and he also teaches at Jazz in July, where he is an alumnus.
A deeply rich and soulful feeling can be heard in Christian’s music, characterized by his infectious energy and spirit. It was that same spirit that caught the attention of Grammy award winning bassist, Christian McBride, who asked Sands — then 20 years old — to sit in at the Village Vanguard with his big band, Inside Straight. That appearance led to Sands becoming a member of bassist Christian McBride’s Trio, with whom he has toured throughout the world. Their 2013 CD release, “Out Here,” received a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.
Since arriving on the scene, Sands has shared the stage with such jazz luminaries as Wynton Marsalis, Diane Reeves, Shelia E, Warren Wolf, Tia Fuller, Gary Burton, Stefan Harris, Teri Lynne Carrington, Jason Moran, Geri Allen, Ben Williams, Randy Brecker, Steve Johns, Avery Sharpe, James Moody, Bill Evans (sax), Russell Malone, Terrance Blanchard, Louis Hayes, Patti Austin, Marcus Baylor, Craig Handy, Carl Allen, Kirk Whalum, and Wycliffe Gordon.
The power and prowess of his playing has taken him from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to the Newport Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival, Gilmore Jazz Festival (Kalamazoo), Clifford Brown Jazz Festival (Delaware), and the Savannah Music Festival; to New York’s celebrated jazz clubs such as the Village Vanguard, Jazz Standard, Blue Note and Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola; to international jazz clubs in Japan (Blue Note), Germany (A-Train), Russia, Italy, Corsiva, France, Belgium, Denmark and Spain.
Christian provides a soulful melodic touch on S. Epatha Merkerson’s documentary, “Contradictions of Fairhope,” a soundtrack recorded with McBride. Sands was named one of the future rising stars by Wynton Marsalis in Jet Magazine. Vanity Fair’s “Jazz Youth-Quake” also named him as a future jazz star. He was finalist for the 2015 Cole Porter Jazz Fellowship Award sponsored by the America Pianist Association.
An in demand composer and arranger, he appeared on six albums in 2015 as well as releasing two live recordings: Christian McBride Trio “Live at the Vanguard” and his debut recording in Denmark “ Take One” Live at Jazzhus Montmartre Copenhagen with drummer Alex Reil and bassist Thomas Fonnesbaek, which has received national and international rave reviews.
Pianist Christian Sands invents and re-invents himself with sonorities which define each moment, rhythms which impel his music forward, structures which are surprising and fascinating — and never for a moment un-musical. He personifies the rising musicality and spiritual aspirations of a singularly gifted musical soul. “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Christian Sands doesn’t disappoint.
Christian Sands and his quartet perform at 8pm on Saturday, August 27 on the New Haven Green as part of the New Haven Jazz Festival. Free/no tickets required.