by Ferell Aubre
Christian Sands is back with the latest endeavor of his creative piano storytelling, with the follow up to his 2017 release, Reach. His new album is aptly titled Reach Further. The hard working and touring pianist is a GRAMMY® Award-nominee, and Steinway artist. The EP is an outing featuring two studio cuts and live performances of three tracks recorded on March 7, 2018 at the popular Los Angeles jazz club Blue Whale. This digital-only release is a preview of his full-length release due out this fall on Mack Avenue Records. The trio is, Sands on piano with bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Jerome Jennings for the live tracks, and bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Marcus Baylor for the studio tracks.
Opening with an excellent original composition titled, “Jstreet,” recorded in the studio, it’s a medium-up swinger that feels amazing. Baylor and Nakamura create a huge pocket that Sands develops his captivating lines upon. The melody has a flow that takes us through simple melodic phrases to complex band hits and twisting melodic lines. Sands’ solo builds and id energetic. His use of chords while soloing is really something quite special, the interaction between solo lines and chordal patterns is part of Sands unique language and style. His timing is impeccable, it drives forward, but never rushes, it’s in the pocket, but moves, and his melodic colors are outstanding. Nakamura’s bass solo is clear and musical, with precise intonation and time feel. This is the real deal and the track feels great!
“¡Óyeme! (Live)” finds the trio in a Latin flavored selection. Opening with an amazing display of piano playing by Sands, the trio builds the groove to the melody, which comes in at around a minute and forty-four second mark. The layers of this track are a joy to listen to, Sands’ playing creates multiple layers as does Baylor’s drumming. The form unfolds to Sands’ solo, which starts in octaves, as the trio relaxes the groove to begin the journey of building. The track is a joyful listen that is intense in ideas and interaction, but always musical! Jennings drum work is colorful and interactive, it is the spark that ignites the magic within this trio.
Reach Further EP again highlights Sands’ captivating performance style, serving as a glimpse into what is to come in the fall with a full-length album, this EP is an enjoyable collection of five tracks. The grooves are deep and varied, the playing is musical and the story telling is just as exceptional as the musicianship! Said simply, you must have on this one!