Be Water


(Mack Avenue Records)

In an oft-quoted aphorism about adaptability, martial arts master Bruce Lee touted the mutability of good old H2O. “You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup,” he explained. “You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” This advice wasn’t lost on pianist and composer Christian Sands, whose latest recording, Be Water (Mack Avenue), utilizes the principles extolled by Lee in various musical settings. Sands and his rhythm team of bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Clarence Penn remain at the center of the 10 tracks, which variously add guitar, electric piano, organ, horns and strings. However, the quietly exuberant “Crash” showcases the unadorned trio, with Nakamura’s resonant bass lines and Penn’s splashy cymbals providing depth and motion beneath Sands’ silvery shimmer, truly evoking the forward propulsion of a rushing river. Whether crashing or flowing, Sands’ piano retains its essential qualities of creative expression.

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