Pianist and MJF on Tour Music Director Christian Sands is a two-time Grammy nominee. Growing up in New Haven, Connecticut, he started playing professionally at the age of 10 and received his BA and master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. A protégé of Dr. Billy Taylor, Sands began a six-year association with bassist Christian McBride in 2009, and has followed in Dr. Taylor’s footsteps by encouraging, inspiring, and advocating for the preservation and history of jazz. As Monterey Jazz Festival’s Artist-in-Residence from 2020–22, Sands launched his online video series “Welcome to the Sands Box,” interviewing his friends and favorites from the jazz world. Sands’ third recording for Mack Avenue Music Group, Be Water, captures and establishes him as a forceful leader in composition and conceptual vision. He has performed at MJF five times since 2014 and acted as MJF on Tour’s musical director in 2018–19.