Christian Sands Quartet
Christian Sands is one of the young giants of jazz piano! His quartet will be taking over Keystone Korner Baltimore Friday through Sunday, June 23-25!
Christian Sands is an American jazz pianist and composer. Sands was mentored by pianist Billy Taylor, who allowed the teenager to close one of the sets that Taylor played at the Kennedy Center. Sands went on to study at the Manhattan School of Music. The school’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, led by Bobby Sanabria, recorded the album Kenya Revisited Live in 2009; it was nominated for a Latin Grammy. After graduating, Sands joined Inside Straight, one of bassist Christian McBride’s bands; they have toured internationally. Sands became a Steinway artist in 2012. In 2014, Sands cited as influences McBride, Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Garrett, and Marcus Roberts, because “They’re coming from the tradition of bringing people into the music, but also moving it forward into new directions”. In the same year, Sands became an American Pianists Association Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalist.
His third album for Mack Avenue Records, Be Water, was released in 2020 and received a Grammy Award nomination in the Best Instrumental Composition category for the song “Be Water II.” On his stunning new album, Be Water, pianist Christian Sands takes inspiration from water’s tranquility and power and muses on the possibilities offered by echoing its fluidity and malleability. Through ten gorgeous and thrilling pieces, Sands alternately conjures the serenity of a sun-dappled lake and the drama of a relentless thunderstorm. Just embarking on his 30s, Sands has already enjoyed a remarkable career trajectory, touring and recording with Christian McBride’s Inside Straight and Trio, as well as collaborating with the likes of Gregory Porter and Ulysses Owens.
Be Water takes its title from the philosophy of martial arts master and movie star Bruce Lee (by way of screenwriter Stirling Silliphant, who distilled his thoughts for the screen). Lee’s voice appears on both halves of Sands’ title track offering this profound advice: Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle… Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend. (Bruce Lee inspirational quote). Lee was an early idol for Sands, who grew up watching his classic films with his father and skillfully studied a variety of martial arts himself until the notion of breaking boards and cinder blocks with his hands seemed ill-advised for a promising young pianist. Lee’s teachings re-entered Sands’ thoughts during his two-year residency with Jazz at Lincoln Center in Shanghai, China, which opened up new worlds of culture and philosophy to him. Those pursuits led him to the writings of Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan on the mysticism of sound and music.
The music of Be Water flows with the mesmerizing tranquility and awesome power of its namesake. On his most conceptually ambitious album to date, Christian Sands takes heed of Bruce Lee’s wisdom and truly allows his creativity to transform and assume a dazzling variety of forms.