Sam Spear is a jazz woodwind instrumentalist, composer, and educator based in Boston, MA. She creates music that explores the broad spectrum of the jazz idiom.
Spear is a prolific performer, composer, and arranger. During the pandemic, she has self-released several recordings including Cabin Fever, The Ragtime Project, and The New Groove. She was a member of the 2021 Jazz Education Network’s Sisters in Jazz Collegiate Combo. Spear has composed and arranged more than 125 pieces of music for a variety of ensembles and levels. Her four-part work for jazz orchestra Survivor’s Suite was awarded the 2019 Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble Prize.
As an educator, Spear has worked with students from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience levels. She is the Lower School Winds Ensemble director at the Winsor School in Boston and teaches privately. In 2019, Spear was a teaching assistant for the Interlochen Arts Camp jazz program where she taught improvisation courses and was assistant to the conductor of the jazz orchestras.
Spear has been a rising voice for gender equality in the jazz community. She presented her lecture Mary Lou Williams in the Age of #MeToo at the 2019 IAWM and FT&M15 joint conference. Her advocacy work has been featured in Downbeat Magazine’s February 2019 issue and in a news story on Boston’s local NPR station, WBUR. Spear co-founded Women in Jazz Collective, a student-run organization at Berklee College of Music with the mission of empowering female and non-binary jazz musicians.
Spear is a recent graduate of New England Conservatory of Music where she completed a degree in Jazz Performance with academic honors. She studied with Jerry Bergonzi, Miguel Zenón, Ken Schaphorst, and Frank Carlberg. As a member of the NEC Jazz Orchestra, she performed with Dave Holland, George Schuller, Luciana Souza, and Antonio Sanchez, among others.
Spear graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2019, with a double major in Performance and Jazz Composition. At Berklee, Spear was awarded a Presidential Scholarship (2015-2019), the Jazz Composition Achievement Award (2017), the Woodwind Department Achievement Award (2019), and the Toshiko Akiyoshi Award (2019). She was a member of the prestigious Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra directed by Greg Hopkins. During her time at Berklee, Spear studied saxophone with Shannon LeClaire, Jim Odgren, and George Garzone. She studied composition with Ayn Inserto, Greg Hopkins, and Bob Pilkington.