Sam Ospovat

Originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, Ospovat played piano and sang in boys’ choir before picking up his first pair of drumsticks in 5th grade. Late nights spent improvising in friends’ parents’ basements eventually revealed to him the wisdom of moving to the Bay Area, where he studied percussion with William Winant, drum set with Peter Magadini and George Marsh, and Haitian Vodou drumming with master drummer Daniel Brevil.

His debut recording as a band leader, Ride Angles, came out on Chris Speed’s Skirl Records in 2019. It features his trio with pianist Matt Mitchell and bassist Kim Cass, along with guest virtuosos Brandon Seabrook (guitar), Nick Lyons (alto saxophone), and Lorin Benedict (scat vocals).

Other projects he is involved in represent a trenchant cross-section of the current Brooklyn/NYC scene. They include the Flying Luttenbachers, Angelica Sanchez’ Nonet, Brandon Seabrook’s Die Trommel Fatale, Ava Mendoza’s avant-garde rock trio Unnatural Ways, and legendary underground post-rock spoken-word group Enablers.

Ospovat has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe and worked with many notable musicians including Tune-Yards, Terry Riley, The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Weasel Walter, William Winant, members of Rova Saxophone Quartet, Ches Smith, and Bill McHenry.

He was extremely fortunate to work closely with Cecil Taylor, Wadada Leo Smith, and Maryanne Amacher while at Mills College, where he earned his MFA in 20th century Percussion Performance and Literature.

He made his recording debut at Fantasy Studios playing bell tree on Lou Harrison’s “Threnody for Carlos Chavez” for the Winant produced Drums Along the Pacific on New Albion Records, and subsequently recorded on dozens of albums during the halcyon days of the early 21st century Oakland, CA creative music scene. At this time he was a member of influential Bay Area bands Beep, Timosaurus, Shit Pony, Kapowski, Cavity Fang, The Oakland Active Orchestra, Ton Trio, Anteater, and The R&B Free Jazz Gospel Supreme 80.

From 2007-2009 Ospovat took two years off of music to realize a lifelong goal to be fluent in a foreign language. He did a second bachelor’s in French at San Francisco State University, along with a one year study abroad in France at l’Université de Paris 8. The experience of learning a new language as an adult in a foreign country catalyzed important changes in his personality and his approach to music.

Ospovat currently resides in Brooklyn, and prior to the pandemic divided his time between touring, recording, performing around New York City, and accompanying modern dance classes at the world renowned Fame School, where he has been on the dance faculty since 2016. He recorded the theme and interstitial music for the groundbreaking Paris Review podcast with David Cieri, Mike Brown and Shahzad Ismaily, and is featured with this same group on an album of poems by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa.

In September 2018 Ospovat was a featured performer at the One Planet Summit of world leaders in New York City, organized by the United Nations, the Office of the President of France, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. And in May 2019 he performed his first concert with Lydia Lunch in Mexico City.

In addition to composing, perfecting his electronics set up for the drum set, and learning a new book of challenging music by long term collaborator Kim Cass, Ospovat recorded two albums under his own name during the pandemic, which released in 2022.

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