Christian Sands High Wire Trio Bring The Legacy Of Erroll Garner To Life Amidst AOJ Collaborative Effort

Sunday, February 2 turned out to be a momentous day of jazz in the burgeoning jazz city of Buffalo.  Despite it being Super Bowl Sunday, over 350 patrons became a raptured audience in the afternoon to hear Christian Sands, Creative Ambassador of the Erroll Garner Jazz Project, put on a display of piano mastery.  At the same time, presenting a humanized Erroll Garner through voice recordings of past figures, such as Art Blakey, expounding upon their memories of this unique jazz legend.  And, at one point, playing a recording of Erroll Garner speaking about his playing and music sensibilities.

The concert took place at Kleinhans Music Hall in the Mary Seaton Room.  The event marked the months-long culmination of a collaborative effort to transition the Art of Jazz Series to the hall’s Mary Seaton Room.  Rechristened Art of Jazz at the Philharmonic while the Albright-Knox Art Gallery undergoes its significant 2-year transformation.  

Suggested by Dan Hart, Executive Director of Kleinhans Music Hall to Joe-Lin Hill, Deputy Director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the collaboration of Kleinhans, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and JazzBuffalo as media sponsor all contributed to making the series possible to continue.  With Bruce Eaton leading as the series Executive Producer, it took a team of people that included Tony Zambito of JazzBuffalo as Associate Producer, Dan Hart’s orchestration of support services, staff, and volunteers from Kleinhans, the superb sound engineering of Justin Sircus, the technical support of Tom Loonan from Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and the technical drum support of Bill Bates. 

The collaboration serves as a welcoming spirit to keep the arts in our city vibrant.  Where the arts are a vital component of Buffalo’s thriving cultural community as well as the basis for Buffalo as a destination for art and music enthusiasts.

The collaborative effort set the stage for Christian Sands High Wire Trio to profess the music and legacy of Erroll Garner.   The trio of Christian Sands on piano, Alex Claffy on bass, and Rodney Green on drums performed the music of Erroll Garner together for the first time.  What makes jazz remarkable is how three gifted artists can go from introduction to mastery in a matter of mere hours. 

The trio was impressively cohesive after the first couple of songs.  All guided by the ambassadorship of Christian Sands.  Who’s passionate caretaking of the Erroll Garner Jazz Project was seen and heard by all in attendance.  Sands is a next-generation jazz pianist blessed with the beautiful combination of technical acuity and wonderful improvisational expression.  Throughout the performance, evoking the spirit of Garner’s rhythmic playfulness in each song.  Ending with a rousing ovation from the audience after the encore performance of Garner’s signature song, “Misty.”

For more about this exceptional concert, see the equally exceptional review by Garaud MacTaggart he penned for the Buffalo News here:

The next concert in the Art of Jazz series at 3 p.m. March 15 will feature pianist Ethan Iverson and trumpeter Tom Harrell.

(Photos Credit: Tom Loonan)

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