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Not yet 30, Christian Sands is one of the most in-demand pianists working in jazz. In the last few years he has toured around the world as a bandleader and appeared as a sideman on records by Christian McBride and Gregory Porter. ‘Facing Dragons’ is Sands’ return to the recording studio with an indestructible band and an unwavering allegiance to the groove.
”I like the freedom of the trio format,” says Sands. “It’s more dramatic to me. It’s a smaller entity but with a big personality. I can fit it into different situations dynamically, compositionally.” He is joined by bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Jerome Jennings, the band that Sands has been relentlessly touring with. The two sensitive accompanists are locked in sync, joined occasionally by a powerhouse pair of horns, a sinewy guitarist and a fiery pair of percussionists.
Guests include saxophonist Marcus Strickland, who strikes first on the hard swinging “Fight For Freedom,” unleashing a throaty cry over the churning band. Trumpeter Kenyon Harrold shares the frontline with Strickland, playing in effortless harmony on the melody before getting a little solo space near the tune’s close. Harrold takes centre stage later on “Frankenstein,” a churning meditation reminiscent of Herbie Hancock’s seafaring journeys of the 1960s.
Other tracks include “Sangueo Soul,” where Sands bounces above the churning South American rhythms, with Caio Afune doubling the piano lines on guitar. The tune is impossible to resist as a battery of rhythm pushes Sands’ piano into a righteous jaunt; clear the dancefloor. Percussionist Cristian Rivera appeared on Sands’ Mack Avenue Records debut, and the two formed a tight bond over a decade ago in Bobby Sanabria’s Afro Cuban Big Band. Percussionist Roberto Quintero, a native Venezuelan, brings the fire and authenticity to the party.
Fight For Freedom
Samba De Vela
Rhodes To Meditation