Review: Christian Sands in Discovery Artist at the KC Jazz Club

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Jazz pianist Christian Sands appeared at the KC Jazz Club last Friday evening with drummer Jerome Jennings and bassist Eric Wheeler: together, the pulse and rifts and energy lifted both heart and soul.

Christian Sands. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

And the future of jazz has a spotlight to the moon.

Young, personable, and a pianist with magic fingers, Christian Sands with his Trio mixed traditional jazz with more popular motifs, with compositions ranging from Cedar Walton’s “Bolivia” to  Bert Kaempfert and Milt Gabler’s “L.O.V.E.”

At one point, Sands even forecast a possible nod toward DC’s own Go-Go.

Sands gave us his original compositions too, most notably “Reaching for the Sun,” from his new album Reach.

The trio then did Ray Brown “FSR” with bassist Eric Wheeler leading the way with an arresting solo. When Sands and Wheeler joined in, the explosion of sound was pure express.

Jerome Jennings got his solo on a rendition of Thelonius Monk’s “Evidence.” Jennings knows how to use his sticks and he had his audience hanging on each beat.

One of the highlights of the evening, both for its jazz work and for its nod to contemporary musical phrasing, was the trio’s version of “L.O.V.E,” made famous in Nat King Cole’s album of the same name.

The delicacy of Sands’ fingerwork, with each note sounding discreetly yet in harmony with each cluster, had the audience listening for each new nuance of love with rapt attention. An ovation was not far away.

If this eclectic evening of jazz is any indication, the Christian Sands Trio will never miss an opportunity to surprise its audience with unique combinations of experimentation and tradition.

Running Time: 75 minutes with no intermission

Christian Sands played the KC Jazz Club on November 18, 2017, at The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Gallery – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For the full season at the Jazz Club go online.

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Robert Michael Oliver
Poet, Performer, Theatre Artist, Playwright, Educator, Writer--Robert Michael Oliver, Ph.D., has been involved in the DC arts scene since the 1980s, when he co-founded The Sanctuary Theatre in the old sanctuary of Calvary United Methodist Church. Since those fierce days in Columbia Heights, he has earned his doctorate in theatre from University of Maryland, raised two wonderful children, and seen more theatre as a reviewer over the last two years than he saw in the previous thirty. He now co-directs, along with his wife Elizabeth Bruce, the Sanctuary's Performing Knowledge Project, which organizes a host of writing and performance workshops, plus Mementos: Poetry and Performance for Seniors, a yearly literature-in-performance Fringe Festival show, as well as Performetry--a monthly poetry and prose performance event at DC's community arts & culture center BloomBars.