Christian Sands


Christian Sands
Sands in Denmark, 2015
Sands in Denmark, 2015
Background information
Birth nameChristian Sylvester Sands
Born (1989-05-22) May 22, 1989 (age 33)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Years active2000s–present
LabelsMack Avenue Records

Christian Sylvester Sands (born May 22, 1989) is an American jazz pianist and composer. 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."

Life and career

Sands in Denmark, 2015

Sands was born on May 22, 1989.[1] He grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, and later moved to the nearby town of Orange.[2] He started playing the piano at a very young age, and took lessons from the age of four; he commented that "I grew up with it in the house, in the classroom and on stage so it has always been a huge part of my life".[2]

Sands was mentored by pianist Billy Taylor, who allowed the teenager to close one of the sets that Taylor played at the Kennedy Center.[3] Sands went on to study at the Manhattan School of Music.[4] The school's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, led by Bobby Sanabria, recorded the album Kenya Revisited Live in 2009;[5] it was nominated for a Latin Grammy.[6]

After graduating, Sands joined Inside Straight, one of bassist Christian McBride's bands; they have toured internationally.[7]

Sands became a Steinway artist in 2012.[8] 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".[2] In the same year, Sands became an American Pianists Association Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalist.[2]


An asterisk (*) indicates that the year is that of release.

As leader

Year recorded Title Label Personnel/Notes
2002* Footprints Stanza Trio, with Jeff Fuller (bass), Jesse Hameen II (drums)
2004* Harmonia Stanza Trio, with James Cammack (bass), Arti Dixson (drums)
2007* Risin' Christian Sands With Michael Asseta (bass), Jesse Hameen II & Ryan Sands (drums), Josh Evans (trumpet), Bill Evans (saxophone), Billy Taylor producer
2008 Furioso M&I With Craig Handy (flute, tenor sax), Randy Brecker (flugelhorn, trumpet), Ugonna Okegwo (bass), Louis Hayes (drums)
2014 Take One Storyville Trio, with Thomas Fonnesbæk (bass), Alex Riel (drums); in concert
2017 Reach Mack Avenue With Marcus Baylor (drums), Yasushi Nakamura (bass), Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Christian McBride (bass), Cristian Rivera (percussion), Marcus Strickland (tenor saxophone and bass clarinet)
2017–18 Reach Further Mack Avenue Most tracks trio with Yasushi Nakamura (bass), Jerome Jennings (drums); some tracks trio with Nakamura (bass), Marcus Baylor (drums); EP; Jennings tracks in concert
2018 Facing Dragons Mack Avenue With Yasushi Nakamura (bass), Jerome Jennings (drums) Marcus Strickland (sax), Keyon Harrold (trumpet), Caio Afiune (guitar), Cristian Rivera and Roberto Quintero (percussion)
2020 Be Water Mack Avenue With Yasushi Nakamura (bass), Clarence Penn (drums) Marcus Strickland (sax), Sean Jones (trumpet), Marvin Sewell (guitar), Steve Davis (trombone)

As sideman

Year recorded Leader Title Label
2009* Bobby Sanabria Kenya Revisited Live
2012* Ulysses Owens Unanimous Criss Cross Jazz
2013* Christian McBride People Music Mack Avenue
2013* Christian McBride Out Here Mack Avenue
2017* Gregory Porter Nat King Cole & Me Blue Note
2019* Jordan Pettay First Fruit Outside in Music[9]
2019 Alexa Tarantino Winds of Change Posi-Tone[10]


  1. ^ Collar, Matt. "Christian Sands". AllMusic. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "Get to Know Jazz Fellowship Awards Finalist Christian Sands" (September 11, 2014). American Pianists Association.
  3. ^ Josephson, Sanford (2009) "Jazz Notes: Interviews Across the Generations". Praeger. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-313-35700-8.
  4. ^ Lutz, Phillip (September 3, 2010) "Help for Those Just Starting Out in the Jazz World". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Blanco, Edward (May 9, 2009) "Bobby Sanabria / Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra: Kenya Revisited Live!!! (2009)". AllAboutJazz.
  6. ^ Grossman, Anna Jane (March 15, 2013) "Striking All the Right Notes". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Jarenwattananon, Patrick (May 10, 2012) "Another Young Jazz Artist Who Also Cares About Pop Music Today (Gasp!)". npr.
  8. ^ "Christian Sands". Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  9. ^ Willis, Samantha (April 2019). "Jordan Pettay: First Fruit". DownBeat. Vol. 86, no. 4. p. 54.
  10. ^ Paul Rauch (June 10, 2019). "Alexa Tarantino: Winds of Change". Retrieved May 13, 2020.