Monthly Archives: April 2017

NEW RELEASE: Christian Sands “REACH” on Mack Avenue Records


With his debut Mack Avenue Records recording, REACH, singularly talented pianist and five-time Grammy® Award nominee Christian Sands is stretching into exciting progressive territory as he breaks new ground traversing from the straight-ahead zone into fresh-sounding music influenced by a range of styles, from Afro-Cuban rhythms to hip-hop beats to dirty blues with an edge. That’s impressive for a youngster who is just 27. “The collection here is about reaching new ideas and reaching new music,” he says. “I’m reaching from past recordings to bring in the future, which is really all about finding myself. It’s a chance to express my experience.”


REACH becomes one more milestone in Sands’ auspicious career that stretches back to his New Haven, Connecticut upbringing. Beginning music classes and composing his first piece at age five, he quickly became a professional by ten. Sands was well-prepared to attend such prestigious schools as the Neighborhood Music School and the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven (he later received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music).


But a key moment came when he attended the Jazz in July summer workshop at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst when he was in high school. That was where he met and began his mentorship with Dr. Billy Taylor. “I was 13 or 14 and I studied with Dr. Taylor,” Sands says. “After the first week, he asked me to stay a second. I went on to take private lessons with him and master classes. He became my music grandfather; I went to his house in the Bronx and we’d talk about different music such as his piano heroes like Art Tatum and then bands I was listening to, including The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, John Legend and he was hip to all this.”


The recording is co-produced by Grammy® Award-winning producer Al Pryor and famed bassist Christian McBride, who Sands has collaborated with in his Grammy® Award-winning trio, as well as some of McBride’s other groups, since 2009. “Upon first meeting Christian, I could feel a cool connection,” Sands recalls. “From when I first sat in with his Inside Straight band, I realized that we think about music in the same way. When I got signed to Mack Avenue, I asked if Christian could produce me, as someone who knows my playing and what I want to accomplish in my music.”

Sands has assembled a stellar trio here, including bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Marcus Baylor. The album also features guests Gilad Hekselman on guitar, Marcus Strickland on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet and percussionist Cristian Rivera. He even convinced McBride to make a cameo appearance, bowing his bass at the end of the slow tempo “Use Me.”




With a record deal in hand, Sands set out to make a grand artistic entry with REACH, which includes eight originals and two covers. He opens the album with the upbeat piano trio tune, “Armando’s Song,” with its dazzling keys, rhythmic drive and overall ebullience. Inspired by Chick Corea, the song features a catchy melody and piano counterpoint and flies through different keys and strikes with rhythmic hits. More piano ecstasy follows with the blues-tinged “Song of the Rainbow People,” again a trio trip. “This is a song about bringing people together in the midst of all the racial and religious tension, hate and misunderstanding in the world today,” Sands says.


The swinging “Pointing West,” written when Sands was attending the Manhattan School of Music and playing piano in the practice room overlooking the West Side Highway and the Hudson River beyond, features an inspired collaboration with Strickland that features remarkable harmonizing and trading. The pair links up again in the cosmic “Freefall,” with more intertwining of piano and sax and new colors: the bright synthesized electronics and the dark-toned bass clarinet that speak to the song’s theme of chasing an elusive apparition.


Informed by his Afro-Cuban music experiences in Bobby Sanabria’s band, as well as playing in Los Hombres Calientes and in local Latin bands in Hartford, Connecticut, Sands sizzles on the firestorm “Óyeme,” which features Rivera taking wild freedom with his percussion runs. “I love the groove, the dance,” explains Sands. “This is about having a fiesta. This is what music should be like. Not going too deep, but having a lot of ridiculous fun.” That’s followed by a cooking and bouncing trio swing on “Bud’s Tune,” Sands’ homage to Bud Powell and Herbie Nichols.


The next three songs showcase guitarist Hekselman, whom Sands has worked with for several years, especially in bassist Ben Williams’ band. “I wrote ‘Reaching for the Sun’ with Gilad in mind,” Sands says. “He’s so easy to play with and we never get in each other’s way.” The tune is another easy-going dance with the guitar adding a cool tonal color above the percolating rhythms and an excited fleet-fingered piano solo. Hekselman delivers a rock-edged, bending-note solo on the blues-drenched “Use Me” and helps drive the rhythm on the moving hip-hop grooved “Gangstalude.” Of the former, Sands says that he was a big fan of soul music growing up, with one of his biggest influences being Bill Withers. “I always loved that tune ‘Use Me,’” he says. “Originally I was just going to cover it, but then I started to bend and move the rhythm and extended and stretched the bass and melody lines.” As for “Gangstalude,” Sands says it was originally designed to just be a short swing interlude about gangsters–he loves mob movies like The Godfather--but then he came up with a bridge and brought the hip-hop flow into the mix.




The album ends on a romantic note with a non-original tune, the melodic gem “Somewhere Out There.” Composed by James Horner, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, the original recording, sung by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram, won Grammy® Awards for “Song of the Year” and “Best Song for Film” from its appearance in the 1986 animated film An American Tail. “I was looking for a ballad and I didn’t want to do Strayhorn or Porter,” Sands says. “I wanted to play something that was not that familiar. So I was talking to my mother and she said, ‘What about the song from the movie with the mouse that you used to watch when you were a kid?’ She used to sing it to me when I was four or five years old and my dad would play piano. So I told her she was genius; I don’t think this has ever been done as an instrumental. When people hear this, I’m hoping they go, ‘Oh, yeah, I remember this.’”


The end song is yet another example of how Sands shifts musical gears with a variety of styles on REACH. “Actually, my biggest influence in making this album was Michael Jackson’s Bad record,” he says. “There are so many different kinds of tunes on that, so many changes. So that’s what I was setting out to do.”

MACK AVENUE · the road to great music ·



For tickets / info:


Unknown-1 1527432d6b6dcece45a8453cbb68111a_twitter-logo-twitter-circle-clipart_626-626 Unknown

Questlove Supreme Season Two Now Live On Pandora

Company Debuts “Sounds Like Questlove” As Part Of The “Sounds Like You” Campaign

Pandora (NYSE: P) today released the first episode of the second season of Questlove Supreme. The weekly show, available exclusively on Pandora, is hosted by Questlove, four-time GRAMMY winner, member of The Roots, and music director of NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Season two of Questlove Supreme kicks off today at 1 p.m. EST / 10 a.m. PST with esteemed artist / producer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds as its inaugural guest. New episodes will premiere Wednesdays at 1 p.m. EST / 10 a.m. PST.

Questlove Supreme is a weekly journey through Questlove’s musical landscape featuring adventurous music selections, compelling conversations and revealing interviews with music lovers from the entertainment industry and beyond. Guests from the first season included superstars Chris Rock, Solange and Usher, as well as industry vets Tom Silverman, CEO and founder of Tommy Boy Records, and Dan Charnas of VH1′s The Breaks.

Last season, more than 4.5 million Pandora listeners added the Questlove Supreme station. For season two, new features will enhance the listening experience. Listeners can now access the program in a chapter format, allowing them to revisit and pause favorite segments. A mixtape featuring songs referenced in each weeks’ episode and deep cuts from Questlove’s endless song library is also available at

Upcoming guests on Questlove Supreme include GRAMMY winner Nelly Furtado and super-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

Questlove, brought on as a strategic advisor and artist ambassador for the company last fall, is also featured in a series of digital shorts as part of the company’s new “Sounds Like You” campaign. The campaign rolled out last week alongside its announcement that

Pandora Premium, previously accessible via invite only, is now available to all listeners via the App Store and Google Play or at

OUT NOW: Singer/Songwriter ERIC ROBERSON Releases ‘EARTH’ | First of a Trilogy




Earth is part of an EP trilogy series titled, Earth, Wind and Fire.  Wind will be released July 21st and Fire is to be released on October 20th.  The idea to release three albums in one year began during the creative process in the recording studio.   “I was writing songs that didn’t feel like they belonged together. One song would be about empowerment and another about love,” says Roberson.  The trilogy EP was then birthed.

The inspiration behind the album titles definitely pays homage to the iconic group, but Eric also wanted to use music to voice some of today’s topical issues and in his special way, include his personal influences onto these albums.  “Earthis self-empowering, Wind is the love and Fire is the message,” says Roberson.

Earth features several collaborations, including spoken word from pastor YPJ, for the song, “First Loved Jesus.”  There is also “Superman,” a duet with singer/songwriter Glenn Lewis.  The producers on Earth are Daniel Crawford and DJ Jazzy Jeff’s production team, The Playlist (James Poyser, Stro Elliot, Kaidi Tathum).

Because of Earth’s empowerment theme, the first single on the album is “Million Dollars.” This song sets the pace for the entire album.  The song mentions having a million dollars would be nice, but would never be what makes him happy. “This song is very personal and says more about me than any other song I have written.”  Every song on Earth speaks to a particular part of life and the choices we have to make while going through our day-to-day ups and downs,” states Roberson.










Reebok Promotes Hip-Hop Education on Record Store Day

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 9.59.15 AM

Reebok x Record Store Day

This Saturday, thousands of music fans and aficionados will flock to vinyl shops to celebrate Record Store Day.

While there will be plenty of exclusive releases shrink-wrapped inside to satiate the most rabid audiophile, it’s just as important on this day to remember where music came from. Vinyl represents the roots of today’s music, especially in a genre built on two turntables and a microphone.

Reebok — which has been laced up by the likes of Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Fabolous, Rick Ross, Ice Cube, Cam’ron, Curre$y, Future, Kendrick and many more — has been in the room for as many scratches as any other brand in history. The Reebok Classic Leather, born in ’83, has been connected with hip-hop since the day it dropped.

To help fans understand the real classics of hip-hop, Reebok Classic is partnering with some of the biggest record stores around the country to encourage hip-hop music education. In Atlanta, Reebok is partnering with Criminal Records to host a giveaway of classic hip-hop records every hour on the hour. In Dallas, select classic hip-hop records will be free of cost, courtesy of Reebok. Additional details below.


Who: Reebok and Criminal Records
What: Record Store Day Hip-Hop Giveaway
When: Saturday, April 22, 2017 – 10AM EST
Where: Criminal Records, 1154 Euclid Avenue NE, Atlanta GA 30307


Who: Reebok and Josey Record
What: Free Classic Hip-Hop Records
When: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Where: 2821 Lyndon B Johnson Fwy #100, Farmers Branch, TX 75234

Exclusive Mix: KAZUKUTA Vol.97 by Djeff Afrozila


Djeff, son to a Cape-Verdean father and an Angolan mother, was born and raised in Alverca – Portugal. Thanks to his father’s long-time interest for music, Tiago has been listening to music since his early years. He grew up hearing artists and groups such as Michael Jackson, Europe, Michael Bolton, and Brian Adams… and always his African music which he never forgot such as Kassav, Tabanka Jazz, Livity, Grace Evora, Eduardo Paim and others.

LISTEN TO the Exclusive Mix: KAZUKUTA Vol.97 by Djeff Afrozila





National Weed Day #420 Programming on Fuse & FM


Fuse, FM and get blazed on Thursday, April 20 at 4:20 p.m. ET for Fuse 420 Drive-in: Reefer Madness - a celebration of pot life and the passage of California’s prop 64, with a hilarious shredding of the original propaganda film that helped make marijuana famous (and eventually illegal).


Join comedians Nick Guerra (Last Comic Standing), Justine Marino (Dirty, Sexy Funny), Orlando Leyba (Uproarious)and Dan Klein (The Pete Holmes Show) as they kick back and light up this gem of 420 history with some funny commentary on weed pop culture.


This morning, FM celebrates the high holidaze with an all day video block: The Bong Show Smoke Along beginning at 10 a.m. ET.  Enjoy feature videos from green-friendly artists like Travis $cott, Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, and more. Fuse goes green at 4 p.mwith a Fuse Gets Lit themed music block.


This celebration of cannabis culture will be laced into a hydroponic spark across Fuse, FM, and the Fuse TV app.


The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA): Celebration of Prince in Cinema

Untitled design-5

The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), in association with some of the nation’s leading libraries will commemorate the cinematic legacy of Prince with a series of special screenings and panel discussions that showcase his career in film. During his lifetime, the iconic entertainer, who died on April 21, 2016, starred in four films: UNDER THE CHERRY MOON, SIGN OF THE TIMES, GRAFITTI BRIDGE and the highly-lauded PURPLE RAIN.


AAFCA’s “Celebration of Prince in Cinema” will take place over two weekends, beginning on April 21st at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City and the Blair-Caldwell Library in Denver, and concluding with two screenings, at the Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta and the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Ft. Lauderdale. “Prince was one of the few black musicians who enjoyed success in cinema,” said AAFCA President, Gil Robertson. “His aptitude as a visual artist was stunning and continues to be influential today. It is both a privilege and an honor to share his cinematic works with our community partners around the country.

New App: SongCast Distribution Platform Changing Access to Music


An exciting app called SongCast offers great benefits for both listeners and musicians with its curated music selections from the most trending international artists. It’s a unique distribution platform that gives artists access to the very best streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Music. It solves the challenges many artists face in distributing their work –by giving them a platform to reach mobile and streaming listeners.

The free app features zero ads, and an eclectic selection of music from the company’s own expert DJs and the listeners. Musicians on SongCast can get their music out in front of a large audience, and the listeners can find the hottest new acts before they go mainstream.

Exciting highlights from the SongCast app:

  • Features music from more than 17,000 international artists
  • Musicians can earn significant royalties for their work and build a loyal following
  • Acts also can use syndicated radio services such as Shoutcast and TuneIn

Go to to learn more, or get the app for Android or Apple devices.

Untitled design-3




West Coast Weekender: Festival prices go up Monday 4/17


West Coast Weekender, a weekend of dance and culture in southern California, returns for its second go May 4-7 to imprint itself on the coastal city of San Diego featuring Mark Farina, LTJ Bukem, Oliver Dollar, Purple Disco Machine, Marques Wyatt, Walker & Royce, Matrix & Futurebound, Enei, Manik, Sunshine Jones, Manoo, Mr. V, Rich Medina, Oscar P, Julius tMt, Lars Behrenroth, Jask, Cris Herrera, Eric Medina, Garva.

Last Call for Discount at Four Points 

-  $154 a night rate almost SOLD OUT 

Ticket prices are set to increase on Monday 4/14

* 5 spaces remaining for Abelton Workshop


In 2016 West Coast Weekender established itself as more than just a set of day-to-night parties. As a full-fledged conference, attendees and artists came together at San Diego’s Four Points Sheraton Downtown for provocative discussions on beat making and community-specific topics before heading to the day’s festivities. From panels about social activism to limited-seating workshops on Ableton Live, there are educational opportunities for everyone.


Friday 5.5 

Give A Beat! Change The System! Panel -3pm
Skyline Ballroom at Four Points by Sheraton

Lauren Segal (Give A Beat) moderates a discussion on how the nation’s criminal justice system is broken. 

Panelist: Rich Medina, Morgan Humphrey (Drug Policy Alliance), Jeremy Stock (California Innocence Project), Rescue Poetix, Stacy Kidd, Julius tMt, Doc Link

Saturday 5.6  

SOFit Presents SOfluid Yoga Instruction -11am 
Worldbeat Center, Balboa Park

Lillian So helps you CONNECT to yourself. Move seamlessly. Release tension. Become flexible, clear headed, and aligned. Feel fluid.

Deep sexy, ambient, r&b, soulful, baby-making-music 
spun by Diaztek   *Please Bring A Yoga Mat

Workshop: Ableton Live 101 -10am
Four Points by Sheraton - Pinnacle Room 

Co-founder of The NXWAV, Chris Annibell presents a 2 hour introductory workshop designed to uncover the secrets of Ableton Live’s intuitive and spontaneous workflow. Join a diverse community of artists and create amazing things. Ableton LIVE is a hugely popular production and performance program. Excellent for musicians, producers and DJs. 

20 Students per class 
50% Discount available for Weekender ticket holders – email for more info

Panel: The Art Of The Remix – The Last 30 Years -12pm

Four Points by Sheraton - Skyline Ballroom 

DJ Times Magazine 
editor Jim Tremayne will discuss the art and science of remixing, It’s origins, and evolution.

Panelist: Marques Wyatt, Manoo, Mr. V, Jask, Lonely Boy, Matthew Brian, David Montoya, Davidson Ospina & Asya Shein (Fusicology)

Sunday 5.7 

Panel: Inside The Recording Studio
Four Points by Sheraton - Skyline Ballroom 

DJ ALA  “The Professor” talks with your favorite producers and artists about life in the studio, recording equipment preferences, and how they make money today. 

Panelist: Manik, Lars Behrenroth, Julius tMt, Rich Medina, Alien Tom, Rescue Poetix