New Haven native Christian Sands will be the guest pianist for the fall concert of Fairfield University's Jazz Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, in the university's Quick Center Wien Experimental Theatre.

Jamie Debicella, Class of 2011, winner of Fairfield University's Mary Louise Larrabee Prize for students in the arts, will perform his winning piece with the ensemble.

Brian Torff, bassist and director of jazz and popular music at Fairfield U., leads the ensemble in a tribute to guitar giants Jimi Hendrix on the 40th anniversary of his death and to Django Reinhardt on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The program includes two Reinhardt songs, "Minor Swing" and "Manoir de mes Reves," Hendrix's "Wind Cries Mary," "Red House" arranged by Debicella and Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower." Two compositions by jazz greats John Coltrane and Milt Jackson are featured with Coltrane's "Cousin Mary" and Jackson's "Bags Groove."

Of his music, the 21-year-old Sands says, "[It] is about teaching the way of jazz and keeping it alive." According to Sands in a recent NPR guest appearance on "Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz" program, his influences include Duke Ellington, Theolonious Monk and Dave Brubeck, among others.

Sands has been playing piano since the age of 3 and he began composing at age 5.

Debicella, a guitarist and popular studies music major, originally composed and arranged the Larrabee Award-winning-piece "Esquire" in 2005 for a "power trio" consisting of electric guitar, bass and drums. His work on the piece over the last three years has evolved through the fusion of classical instrumentation and harmony and a popular rock format that is heavily influence by African American musical components.

Tickets to the concert cost $8 general admission, $5 for students They are on sale at or from the box office by calling 203-254-4010; toll-free at 1-877-ARTS-396.