Since 1974 bassist and composer Sam Sherry has played concerts on both coasts and in eight countries. Sam has performed and recorded with jazz notables including:
Sam was born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut and graduated from Hall High School. As a youth he was fortunate to study with Leland Tolo and to participate in several master-classes with Gary Karr. Sam also began traveling to New York City to study jazz playing with Michael Moore, a relationship which continued over the course of five years.
Sam attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston from 1979 through 1981 as a Jazz Studies major and also joined the NEC Symphony Orchestra. At NEC, he studied extensively with Jaki Byard and with Jimmy Guiffre, George Russell, Joe Maneri and Tom McKinley.
After leaving NEC Sam spent several years working as a guitar-builder and repairer. He began working with avant-garde jazz performers, including extensive involvement with Paul Flaherty and David "Frocton" Filipetti in the Trinity Symphony band. Sam also began an exploration of American traditional folk music, playing with Rick Starkey, Bill Walach and Will Welling, The Morgans and ultimately joining the newgrass band Last Fair Deal. Through it all, he continued to realize his love of mainstream modern jazz, frequently performing with the pianist Mark Templeton and the guitarist Bob Kobus.
After several years of study in San Diego, California, Sam moved to Maine in 1992. In 1994 Sam and Mark Kleinhaut formed the modern-jazz composer's collective, The Orion Ensemble, also featuring Steve Grover, Scott Reeves and Scott Oakley.
In 1999 Sam formed his band Ursa Major. He released We'll See on Invisible Music the following year. The CD of Sam's compositions features friends from Maine and New York, including vibraphonist Steve Shapiro (known for his appearance on Steely Dan's Two for the Road). We'll See gathered praise nationally and regionally. Writing in The Phoenix, Sam Pfeifle called it "the best kind of modern jazz: Complex and innovative, yet approachable and pleasing to the ear.
The early years of the new millennium found Sam appearing in all three editions of the Key Maine Jazz Festival, bringing internationally-known artists each year backed by Ursa Major. Sam also began studying occasionally with Cecil McBee and booking concerts for the Maine Jazz Alliance featuring artists from New York and Boston. Composing during this period focused on his song-cycle based on Kahlil Gibran's THE PROPHET, which has received the endorsement of the Gibran National Committee of Lebanon. The project was released in 2006 as Echoes of The Prophet.
Today, Sam performs around New England as a leader and sideman. Sam Sherry & Ursa Major have opened for many prominent jazz artists including Bobby Watson, George Coleman, Roswell Rudd, Lisle Atkinson and Charles Davis. Sam's performance partners frequently include Jan Van Voorst Van Beest, Chris Humphrey, Dave Wells, Steve Grover, Tony Gaboury and Tim O'Dell.