Sam Reider – Video EP

EP Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins

Sam Reider, composer, musician and band leader of a compact acoustic big band, is for me the 21st Century’s Folk Duke Ellington. Like Edward E he has a lightness of touch on the keyboard, he is an inventive composer flowing across musical forms like water and like the Duke he has a way of grace, subtlety and beauty to dance music. This is a 7 track EP, recorded and filmed live in Brooklyn, a continuation of the exciting exploration started on 2018’s incredible Too Hot To Sleep.

“Prelude” is a solo piano piece, part classical exploration, part Bill Evans reflection. It flows perfectly into “Winter Waltz, a charming piece of dance, woven from all the elements you’d expect from Sam Reider And The Human Hands, violin, saxophone, mandolin, guitar, double bass and accordion weave together, but it’s never contrived, musical forms and instruments mesh like rush hour traffic. “Coyoacan”, composed after a visit to the beautiful neighbourhood in Mexico City where Freyda Kahlo lived, is infused with sunlight and joy. “Trio Sonata, Reel, Jig, Breakdown” is a suite written for three contrapuntal instruments. The longer piece dances through different folk-dance rhythms. Hands and instruments fly and dance, Eddie Barbash’s saxophone channels a Scottish fiddle and the band swirls. It’s all a delightful journey with moments of quiet introspection and passages of flight. “Prairie Serenade” is for me the stand out track of the EP. It is from the start, bursting with ideas and invention. Its opening piano has little Randy Newman melancholic flourishes, joined by a loping band and western swing fiddle it becomes a Pixar theme. The saxophone is divine, straight out of classic Ellington. The whole is expansive and cinematic, like Too Hot to Sleep. “Del Boca Vista” continues the exciting Human Hands mix of cafe accordion, Harlem Jazz and Western Swing, like a languid Hot Club of Texas. I love it madly and hopefully it will put a smile on your face in a time when we all need reasons to grin and moments to get lost in.