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Vermont Jazz Center Presents: Christian Sands Trio

Christian Sands to Perform an Overview of Jazz-trio Piano History at the Vermont Jazz Center on Saturday, February 11th.

The Vermont Jazz Center welcomes the Christian Sands Trio to the stage on February 11, 2017 at 8:00 PM in eager anticipation of a guided tour through the colorful and exciting history of jazz piano. Sands is one of the top, young pianists of our time. Mentored personally by Dr. Billy Taylor, influenced by Barry Harris, Hank Jones and Oscar Peterson and apprenticed in the hot seat of Christian McBride’s trio, Christian Sands’ playing is steeped in the tradition--but not limited to--its constraints. He is comfortable playing old-school stride piano like Fats Waller, stretching out in a post-bop setting like McCoy Tyner or re-arranging a hip-hop anthem by Drake. Sands notes that “My music is about teaching the way of jazz and keeping it alive.” He will be performing with long-time associates Russell Hall on acoustic bass and Jerome Jennings on drums.

Christian Sands’ musical vision came into clear focus at Jazz in July in 2006 when, as a teenager, he met one of jazz’s most significant pedagogues: NEA Jazz Master Dr. Billy Taylor. The two pianists formed an immediate connection and Dr. Taylor took Sands under his wing as a protégé. Critic Leonard Feather once said: “It is almost indisputable that Dr. Billy Taylor is the world’s foremost spokesman for jazz.” Taylor’s upbringing included a mentorship with Art Tatum, performances with Charlie Parker and “cutting sessions” with the original Harlem Stride Pianists. Dr. Taylor’s influence on the young Sands came at a crucial time in his development as Sands was an advanced student with lots of chops and a supportive community network, ripe for the encouragement of a disciplined and generous guide who embodied the jazz canon.

Fast forward a decade and Sands had internalized the teachings, mastered the expressivity of the language and become fully conversant in a multitude of styles where that vocabulary is employed - ranging from ragtime to hip-hop. One of the critical, active tasks that helped Sands accomplish this task was the deep work of transcribing recordings of the masters of stride piano like James P. Johnson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fats Waller and Art Tatum and then including interpretations of their works into his ever-expanding repertoire. Sands also mined the secrets imbedded in the improvisations of bebop innovators like Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk and became conversant in the further developments conceived by the trailblazers of the modern jazz piano sound like McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. Christian Sands’ performances demonstrate a mastery of myriad jazz styles. Like Dr. Billy Taylor (prior to his passing in 2010), Sands is a living example of a pianist who promotes the respect and preservation of a body of knowledge that is in need of brilliant, living practitioners in order to maintain its own vibrancy. Christian Sands continues to use the information gleaned from studying piano styles of all subgenres as a basis for cultivating his own unique voice that is both modern and traditional--sometimes simultaneously.

Christian Sands studied at Manhattan School of Music where he received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters degrees. While at MSM, Sands received a Grammy Nomination for “Best Latin Piano Solo” in recognition of his contribution to Bobby Sanabria’s MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra’s CD Kenya Revisited. It was during this time that Sands made his mark in the jazz club scene in NYC. He caught the attention of Grammy award winning bassist Christian McBride, who asked the then 20 year-old pianist to sit in at the Village Vanguard with his quintet Inside Straight. That appearance led to Sands becoming a member of the Christian McBride Trio, with whom he has toured the world. Their 2013 CD release, Out Here, received a Grammy nomination for “Best Jazz Instrumental Album.” Later on, Sands’ accompaniment on the up-tempo tune, “Cherokee” from Live at the Vanguard, was a catalytic ingredient that pushed McBride to play a super-human improvisation that earned him a 2016 Grammy for "Best Improvised Jazz Solo." McBride said: “When I first met Christian [Sands] in 2009, it marked a seminal moment in my career as a bandleader. He was the FIRST young musician I’d met who had the drive, passion and skill of my peers like Roy Hargrove, Eric Reed, Greg Hutchinson and Antonio Hart. He’s only worried about being the best musician he can possibly be. He’s the ultimate professional.”

Sands is now an A-list go-to pianist in New York. He can be heard performing with or on recordings of Alicia Olatuja, Ben Williams, Stefon Harris, Warren Wolf, Jaleel Shaw, Steve Wilson, the Mack Avenue Super Band, Etienne Charles, Wynton Marsalis, Diane Reeves, Shelia E, Tia Fuller, Gary Burton, Teri Lynne Carrington, Jason Moran, Geri Allen, Randy Brecker, James Moody, Bill Evans (sax), Russell Malone, Terrance Blanchard, Louis Hayes, Patti Austin, Craig Handy, Carl Allen, Kirk Whalum, Wycliffe Gordon and many others.
With his time in the limelight as a sideman, Sands has earned the respect of his peers. He has been signed to the Mack Avenue Jazz record label and is now focusing more on his own trio and quartet projects. He will appear at the Vermont Jazz Center with his working trio that includes Russell Hall and Jerome Jennings.

Double-bassist Russell Hall, who is originally from Jamaica, took part in the Essentially Ellington Jazz Competition from 2010 – 2012 and was awarded "Most Outstanding Bassist" all three years of his participation. He was a member of the 2012 Jazz Band of America, the Vail Jazz Workshop, and was recognized by Wynton Marsalis in Jet Magazine as "a jazz star of the future." Hall graduated from Julliard where he studied with Ron Carter. He has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Aaron Diehl, Emmet Cohen, Wayne Shorter, Roy Haynes, The Heath Brothers, Joshua Redman, Jon Hendricks, Kathleen Battle, Herlin Riley, Cyrus Chestnut, Russell Malone, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Joey Alexander, Harold Mabern and many others.

Drummer Jerome Jennings holds a masters degree from Julliard. He has performed, toured or recorded with Sonny Rollins, Hank Jones, Christian McBride, Ray Charles, The Count Basie Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hamiet Bluiett, Freddy Cole, Paula West, Ernestine Anderson, Craig Handy, Davell Crawford, Houston Person, Henry Butler, Slide Hampton, Benny Golson, Gerald Wilson, Tim Reis, Benny Powell, The Mingus Big Band, Ronnie Mathews, Curtis Fuller, Valery Ponomarev, and many others. A young teacher who is dedicated to paying it forward, Jennings works with Jazz At Lincoln Center’s Jazz for Young People (JFYP) and JALCYO (Jazz At Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra) as well as NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center). He has traveled to and performed in over 25 countries.

On Saturday, February 11th at 8:00 PM, we can all look forward to hearing classic jazz standards, selections from the Great American Songbook, original compositions and clever interpretations of modern pop tunes played at the highest level by this young and exceptionally seasoned trio. The Christian Sands Trio performs all over the world and it is indeed hard to catch them in rural Vermont, so carpe diam. The VJC is especially grateful for sponsorship of this event by Diana Bingham. Her generous contribution made this concert possible and for this, the Jazz Center is deeply grateful. The VJC is also thankful for the ongoing support from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, Hampton Inn of Brattleboro. VJC publicity is underwritten by the Brattleboro Reformer, WVPR, WVEW, WFCR and Chris Lenois of WKVT’s Green Mountain Mornings.

Tickets for the Christian Sands Trio at the Vermont Jazz Center are $20+ general admission, $15 for students with I.D. (contact VJC about educational discounts); available at In the Moment in Brattleboro, or online at www.vtjazz.org, by email at ginger@vtjazz.org. Tickets can also be reserved by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line, 802-254-9088, ext. 1. Handicapped access is available by calling the VJC at 802 254 9088.
Christian Sands Video Links:
Sands Trio at Dizzy’s

Sands with Christian McBride at Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, VT

Christian Sands Trio at Montmarte

Hear Christian Sands perform with and be interviewed by Christian McBride on WNPR



Press Release Contact Eugene Uman, Vermont Jazz Center, 802 254 9088, eugene@vtjazz.org

Christian Sands Trio to Perform at the Vermont Jazz Center on Saturday, February 11th.
Press Release date: January 4th, 2017

Short Summary
Who: Virtuoso jazz pianist Christian Sands performs an overview of jazz piano history in a trio setting
With Christian Sands, piano; Russell Hall, acoustic bass; Jerome Jennings on drums.
What: Jazz Standards and originals, performed in an accessible, swinging style
When: Saturday, February 11th, 2017 at 8:00 PM
Where: The Vermont Jazz Center, 72 Cotton Mill Hill, #222, Brattleboro, VT 05301
Tickets available: online at www.vtjazz.org, by email at ginger@vtjazz.org, by phone 802 254 9088, in person at In The Moment, Main St., Brattleboro, VT.


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