Imagine Sam Reider as a magnet – a creative force so positively charged that some of the best musicians from Brooklyn, and much further afield, were very naturally drawn towards him.
The moment we heard the stunning work that emerged from his hot a spicy cauldron, we knew this was a very refreshingly honest meeting of minds and talent that’s bursting at the seams, producing new music that has been making those keen to leap up and embrace it very happy indeed.
Just like Simon Jeffes did with The Penguin Café Orchestra, this is easy-on-the-ear and beautifully executed music that is filled with passion and lifts the spirits. In the USA, there are some who have compared it to The Punch Brothers, and, yes, we get that.
But, this does not have roots solely in bluegrass/new grass; Reider made his mark in some cool jazz circles then discovered American roots music in all of its colourful guises, and the subsequent fermentation period produced a heady and uplifting brew inspired as much by Celtic and Eastern European fiddle-tunes as gypsy jazz, and western film score.
A hugely accomplished composer/pianist/accordionist, we heard flashes of Basque maestro Kepa Junkera as well.
The first album they produced, Too Hot To Sleep turned heads and won converts all over this planet. It’s an outrageously amazing debut crammed with tunes that get stuck in your head and keep you up at night. Born out of months of heavy touring, sleep deprivation and creative excess, it is part journey through the underworld and part midnight revelry.
The Human Hands who joined him are all young, virtuoso acoustic musicians mostly based in New York City who have developed a reputation for mind-bending, high-energy sets.
When Donald Shaw flew them over for their own headline show at Celtic Connections, everyone, including the events musical director himself, said “wow!”
Reviewers fell over themselves to outdo each other with superlatives. Those who caught them when they toured conceded they’d never experienced anything like it.