Sam Reider

(Slow & Steady)

Petrichor is the name for that smell the earth gets after the rain. And the music on this solo album by pianist Sam Reider, recorded after he had returned to his native Northern California following a decade in New York, does have the feeling of outdoor vistas rather than cramped apartments and hot sidewalks. There are many moments here where it’s possible to imagine wriggling one’s toes in damp earth or walking in a redwood forest as the morning mist rises off the ground.

The pieces on this album are a mixture of compositions and improvisations, but Reider’s playing is so thoroughly composed — in a temperamental sense — that it’s impossible to tell which is which without reading the liner notes. And that’s a good thing.

His style is somewhere between chamber music, which he’s written, and the early jazz styles later carried on by players like Jason Moran and Aaron Diehl. There are passages here that stride and even ragtime, alongside lush romantic flourishes, all recorded with the pristine sound and subtle, atmospheric reverb of a classical release. In the liner notes, he calls out specific influential figures to whom he is paying explicit or implied tribute.

The list includes Duke Ellington and Keith Jarrett, but also James Booker and Claude Debussy. And one name leaps out: Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, an Ethiopian nun and composer. Reider names the track “Emahoy” for her, and borrows one of her melodies, turning it into a platform for his own skillful, intuitive improvisation.

On Sale Now
May 2024
Stefon Harris
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