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. He has appeared as a bandleader and soloist at major festivals and venues around the world and his performances and original compositions have been featured on NPR, PBS and the BBC. Reider has performed, recorded and collaborated with a range of artists including Jon Batiste, Jorge Glem, Sierra Hull, Laurie Lewis, and Paquito d’Rivera. As Mark Corroto writes in All About Jazz, “Reider has a knack for writing new music that has a familiar sound. Let's say he has an old soul encased in some sprightly fingers.”
Reider grew up in San Francisco, California, raised in a family of Jewish-American artists. He learned piano from his father, a musical theater composer, and in high school he 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 traveled 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 virtuosic ensemble of acoustic musicians originally based in Brooklyn, NY described by the New York Times as “modern folk music with saxophone and accordion.” 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.”
In July 2022 Reider released Petrichor, his first record of solo piano music. The title refers to the smell of the earth after a first rain and the eight original compositions on Petrichor form a musical reflection on Reider’s recent homecoming to San Francisco after ten years in New York City. “Hiking the foggy coastline, climbing through redwood forests up to alpine lakes, I felt rejuvenated to be back home, in touch with a part of myself that had laid dormant,” says Reider. "I sought to capture the grandeur, intimacy and nostalgia of the landscape I grew up with.” The project represents a return to Reider’s piano roots, in which he pays homage to his earliest inspirations on the instrument – Duke Ellington, James Booker, Keith Jarrett, Claude Debussy, and Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou. Petrichor has received critical praised, described by associated press reviewer Steven Wine as “delightfully distinctive” and by the San Francisco Chronicle as “Destined to spark your creativity, imagination and wanderlust for the natural world.”
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 2016, 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 traveling together, they developed a strong friendship and a unique repertoire of music. Their debut record Brooklyn-Cumanà was released on Guataca Records in fall 2022 and features special guests Paquito d’Rivera and Gaby Moreno.
Reider is a passionate and dedicated educator and a lifelong student. He has studied piano with Grammy-award winning pianist Fred Hersch, been mentored by legendary composer/conductor David Amram, and studied counterpoint and harmony with composer and Juilliard Professor Kendall Briggs. Reider holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and an M.A. in Music Composition from San Francisco State University. He is on faculty at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA where he teaches about jazz and improvisation. Whether he’s performing, teaching or composing music, Reider brings the same high level of dedication to his craft and an exuberance for sharing his love of music with the world.