Chicago pianist and keyboardist Sam Stryke (aka Sam Struyk, pronounced Sam Strike) has been connecting with fans of instrumental music and smooth jazz for years. His blend of piano jazz infused with pop and rock sensibilities has been called “delectable, ultimately listenable jazz” by music critic John Sinkevics.
Stryke grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and as a young musician was influenced by pianists George Winston and David Benoit. As he continued his studies at Northwestern University with pianist Michael Kocour, and later studying with Jim McNeely through an NEA grant, Stryke fell in love with the music of Bill Evans, Vince Guaraldi and Keith Jarrett among other legendary jazz pianists. He has emerged with signature skills of crafting great melodies and the ability to explore thrilling improvisations.
Brunch, Stryke’s fourth CD released in April 2010 is exactly what it claims to be: perfect music for brunch. The instrumentation largely focuses on the classic jazz trio configuration, but the grooves, harmonies and melodies stem from pop and rock influences. Brunch was also designed to provide great live performance material where Stryke could “stretch out” more and show off his jazz chops.
Stryke’s first solo effort, the new age In the Wind (1991) was picked up by Atlantic Records. After a break from his recording career during which Sam finished college, performed in the Chicago jazz scene, and began a successful career in commercial music, he returned with his second album, Emerging (2002) which featured a blend of acoustic and vintage electric instruments and rich orchestrations involving strings and horns.
Stryke’s Christmas CD was released in November 2006 to great reviews. The success of this warm and peaceful holiday album led to appearances with the Grand Rapids Symphony (2007, 2010) and the Atlanta Symphony (2009). Christmas also showcases singer-songwriter Alice Peacock on “The Holly and the Ivy,” a fresh and sentimental approach that features new lyrics written by Stryke.
Coming in November 2010 will be Stryke’s highly anticipated piano and orchestra Christmas CD, Joy to the World. Coming off inspirational performances with the Atlanta Symphony and Grand Rapids Symphony, Stryke returned to the studio and emerged with captivating, cinematic arrangements of favorite traditional carols plus a new Christmas-inspired composition.
Sam Stryke has also had a very successful career composing music for TV, film and commercial music. He has written music for The Oprah Winfrey Show and his commercial tracks have appeared on numerous Super Bowl commercials and award-winning ad campaigns.
Stryke resides on the north side on Chicago with his wife and two children.