September 8th, 2021 10:30pm Stage 3
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Sam Reider and the Human Hands
Sam Reider is a pianist, accordionist, composer, and educator from San Francisco, California. His work brings together various streams of American music, from jazz and folk tunes to popular song and contemporary composition. Reider first learned to play the piano from his father, a musical theater composer. In high school, Reider studied jazz, performed around the country with other young musicians, and was featured on Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” on NPR. At Columbia University in New York City, he majored in American Studies and fell in love with folk music. While writing his thesis comparing the songwriting of Woody Guthrie and Ira Gershwin, Reider picked up an old accordion and began learning bluegrass and old-time tunes. This set him off on a journey that has taken him from back porches and dive bars to concert halls and major festivals all around the world.
Representing the U.S. Department of State as a musical ambassador, Sam has travelled to China, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Estonia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, carrying his accordion on his back and collaborating with international artists. Folk songs and stories from these travels serve as inspiration for many of the compositions on Reider’s first record, Too Hot to Sleep (2018), which features the Human Hands, a “staggeringly virtuosic” (RnR Magazine) ensemble of acoustic musicians originally based in Brooklyn, NY. Irresistible melodies, fiery improvisation and otherworldly sounds collide in what Songlines Magazine dubbed a "mash-up of the Klezmatics, Quintette du Hot Club de France and the Punch Brothers.” Following the release of Too Hot to Sleep, the Human Hands appeared at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Savannah Music Festival, Celtic Connections, and live on the BBC. Reider’s second release, The Human Hands EP (2020), reflects his evolving experimentation with classical form: a piano prelude, a trio sonata for accordion, violin, and octave-mandolin, and folk-infused works for 6 and 7-piece ensemble. The Human Hands include saxophonist Eddie Barbash (Jon Batiste and Stay Human), violinist Alex Hargreaves (Turtle Island Quartet, Live From Here), mandolinist Dominick Leslie (Hawktail, Ricky Skaggs), guitarist Roy Williams, and bassist Dave Speranza.
Cross-cultural collaboration plays a vital role in Reider’s creative practice. His most recent project, a collaboration with Venezuelan artist Jorge Glem, puts the accordion in musical conversation with the cuatro. After meeting Glem at a house party in 2017, Reider began taking the train from Brooklyn to visit Glem at his apartment in the Bronx. Over the course of several years of performing, teaching, and travelling together, they developed a strong friendship and a unique repertoire of music. In January of 2020, they recorded an album exploring common ground between Venezuelan and American traditional music. Reider has performed and recorded with a wide range of other artists including Grammy-nominated mandolinist Sierra Hull, legendary jazz composer David Amram, classical violinist Tessa Lark, Paquito D’Rivera, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, CDZA, T-Pain, Nellie McKay, Ranger Doug, Phoebe Hunt, the Brother Brothers, and many more.
A passionate educator, Reider has led performance-based workshops for thousands of students around the world. These programs use American traditional music as a lens to explore important topics in cultural history and social justice. As part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz for Young People program, Reider has led educational performances at K-12 public schools in New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Washington D.C., Memphis, Nashville, and Providence. A mainstay on the faculty of the Stanford Jazz Workshop, Reider develops and teaches courses every summer for middle and high school students about composition, theory, and American music. Reider moved home to San Francisco in late 2019, where he is currently pursuing a master’s degree in composition at San Francisco State University.