Be Water


(Mack Avenue Records)

Explaining how he could adapt his fighting style to match any opponent, Bruce Lee touted the benefits of being like water. After all, when you pour water into any container, it immediately conforms to the shape of that container. Thus, he advised, “Be water, my friend.” Jazz pianist Christian Sands takes this philosophy to heart on his new recording, Be Water (Mack Avenue), with music rather than martial arts serving as the metaphorical H2O. To accomplish this vision, Sands recruited bassist Yasushi Nakamura and saxophonist Marcus Strickland, with both of whom he’s previously recorded, as well as trumpeter Sean Jones, trombonist Steve Davis, guitarist Marvin Sewell and drummer Clarence Penn. Sewell lays down a percolating riff to open “Drive,” included here. He’s soon joined by Sands’ playful arpeggios and Penn’s driving beat. Strickland’s tenor adds quietly joyful expression before Sewell uncorks a fanged solo that carries the song toward its conclusion. Sands’ use of Hammond B2 organ and Strickland’s bass clarinet further layer the sonic tapestry. Throughout the variety of textures and styles, Sands retains his bright, sparkling voice, like water adapting to its surroundings without losing its essential nature.

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