Hi, I’m Sam. I was born and raised in Western Massachusetts, in a small town called Worthington. I left there in 2000 to attend Oberlin College, where I met many of the musicians I still collaborate with.
I moved to New York in 2004 and settled in the Astoria, Queens neighborhood, working as a nanny as I got my musical career going. I was playing a lot of improvised music at the time (still do!), and met many like-minded players through playing in the New York Soundpainting Orchestra and volunteering and generally hanging out at the Stone. Parallel to my activity as a serious improviser of music, I hooked up with several of the extremely talented rock musicians and songwriters that live in this city, and also found myself getting involved in playing music for theater and dance. I started touring a fair amount and meeting people all over the US and Europe. Don’t let people tell you that being a musician isn’t awesome.
I think of myself as a trombonist, though I play an increasing number of other instruments pretty decently. The trombone is the instrument that I play every day and can usually count on to best express myself with. However, as the Frank Zappa saying goes, “you can’t write a chord ugly enough to say what you want sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream.” So sometimes I rely on the electric bass, or my voice, or the tuba, or the guitar, or the ukulele to say what I want. I’ve even got my sister’s oboe from high school that I break out on rare occasions. I tell you, when you’ve been playing the trombone your whole life and dealing with the difficulty of slide technique and then you pick up an instrument like the oboe that has BUTTONS, it’s liberating!
It would be silly not to list by name some of the people I’ve worked with in New York. These are the people who shape who I am as a player, which is very closely related to who I am as a person. You can hear some of this music elsewhere on this website, and for those of you who are able to make it to a show, I try to make it special every time. Starring, Skeletons, Nervous Cabaret, Anthony Braxton, Talibam!, Joachim Badenhorst, The Talking Band, Cynthia Hopkins, Peter Evans, Mitra Sumara, Kagel Nacht, Jim Bianco, Johnny Society, Blueberry, Capillary Action, Mary Halvorson, Kevin Shea’s Lonely Goldmine of Symbiotic Subterfuge, Jeremiah Cymerman, Frantz Loriot, Moppa Elliott, Walter Thompson, TILT Brass, 5 for Marion, Levon Helm, Dubl Handi, Charlie Rauh, John Zorn, Guardian Alien, Yellowbirds, Mettawee River Theater Company, Jessy Carolina, Yasanao Tone, Langhorne Slim, Chris Ferris, Red Dive, Amanda Palmer, The National Reserve, the Dirty Water Dogs, Kabloona, Tin Pan, the Drunkard’s Wife, Paranoid Larry, Yoshi Wada, Super Hi-Fi, Shahzad Ismaily, Ed Pastorini, Louise DE Jensen, James Ilgenfritz, Kamala Sankaram, Banana Bag & Bodice, Rick Burkhardt, Cesar Alvarez, Gordon Webster, David First & The Western Enisphere.