Sam Reider is a composer, accordionist, pianist, and singer from Brooklyn
Sam Reider is an American accordionist, pianist, composer, and singer-songwriter. He’s been featured at Lincoln Center and on NPR and collaborated with pop stars, jazz and folk musicians around the world. Reider is the leader of a “staggeringly virtuosic band” (RnR Magazine) of bluegrass and jazz musicians based in Brooklyn called The Human Hands.
Following the release of their critically-acclaimed record Too Hot to Sleep (2018), Sam and the Human Hands have appeared at major festivals and venues throughout the US and the UK and performed live on the BBC. Irresistible melodies, fiery improvisation and otherworldly sounds collide in what Songlines Magazine has dubbed "mash-up of the the Klezmatics, Quintette du Hot Club de France and the Punch Brothers.” Too Hot To Sleep features Eddie Barbash (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jon Batiste and Stay Human), Alex Hargreaves (Turtle Island Quaret, Live From Here, Sarah Jarosz), Dominick Leslie (Hawktail, Ricky Skaggs Band, Deadly Gentlemen), Roy Williams (Stephane Wrembel), Grant Gordy (David Grisman Quintet) and Dave Speranza.
Reider grew up in San Francisco, the son of a musical theatre composer and klezmer musician. He began performing at a young age, and was interviewed on Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” on NPR when he graduated high school. At Columbia University, he fell in love with American folk music. While writing his senior thesis comparing the songwriting of Woody Guthrie and Ira Gershwin, Sam began studying bluegrass and old-time, transcribing the fiddle melodies for the accordion and learning to sing the songs. This set him off on a journey that has taken him from back porches and dive bars to concert halls and major festivals in practically every state in the country.
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 everywhere he goes and collaborating at with international artists. Sounds and stories from these travels frequently serve as the inspiration for Reider’s compositions, which together form an ongoing musical travelogue.
As a side-man, collaborator and recording artist, Reider has worked with artists including Sierra Hull, Jorge Glem, Phoebe Hunt, Courtney Hartman, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, T-Pain, David Amram, Nellie McKay Ranger Doug, the Brother Brothers and more. A passionate educator, Reider leads ongoing performances for public school students throughout the New York City area in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center. He has designed curricula and taught courses at the Stanford Jazz Festival, San Francisco Jazz, and other private institutions around the country. More info on Sam’s education work.
"The perfect distraction for insomniac bluegrass fans" - Songlines, Top of the World
"A staggeringly virtuosic band" - RnR Magazine
"Too Hot To Sleep is simply stunning, one to get utterly lost in." - Northern Sky Magazine
"He's got rhythm. And for someone his age, plenty of soul, too.” - San Francisco Chronicle
"Dashes of folk influences from around the world are sprinkled into its string band aesthetic.. Reider’s accordion is the unyielding anchor, giving a dose of soulful, raw timelessness, but with a modern crispness and confidence.” - The Bluegrass Situation
“It is always moving to see fellow musicians playing with such passion, thank you Sam Reider!” - Taraf de Haidouks
TOO HOT TO SLEEP
Too Hot To Sleep, the debut record from accordionist and pianist Sam Reider is the music that gets stuck in your head and keeps you up all night.
Reider, who has built a cult following leading regular midnight sets at one of the oldest dive bars in Brooklyn, conjured the music out of his insomnia. “I’ll come home at 2 am after improvising wild music all night and then lie awake while fragments of melodies run through my mind. Sometimes all I can do is get up and go to the piano.”
What emerged is a record and an ensemble that breaks down any remaining boundaries between jazz, folk, and chamber music. The closest points of reference may be the Punch Brothers or the Goat Rodeo Sessions, but Reider reaches far beyond his roots in American music to draw on melodies and rhythms from around the world.
Beginning with an almost Morricone-inspired western piece, “The Murder,” the album follows a narrative of a journey through the underworld. From the blazing-fast “Swamp Dog Hobble” to the Klezmer/Balkan-tinged “Skeleton Rag,” the band’s virtuosity is totally captivating. Reider returns to his jazz roots in the title-track, “Too Hot To Sleep,” an otherworldly, Strayhorn-esque duet with crack alto saxophonist Eddie Barbash.
Reider is joined on the record by a group of young acoustic musicians in Brooklyn called The Human Hands, some of the best and brightest from the worlds of jazz and roots music: Alex Hargreaves (Live From Here, Sarah Jarosz) on violin, Eddie Barbash (Jon Batiste and Stay Human) on saxophone, Dominick Leslie (Hawktail, Ricky Skaggs) on mandolin, Roy Williams (Stephane Wrembel) on guitar, and Dave Speranza (Jim Campilongo) on bass.