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Phillip Greenlief

phillip greenlief (b. 1959, los angeles) - (shorter bio and index of compositions listed below)

"The Bay Area's do-it-yourself ethos has produced a bevy of dazzlingly creative musicians, but few have put the philosophy to work as effectively as Phillip Greenlief". – Andrew Gilbert, San Francisco Chronicle

Acclaimed saxophonist and composer Phillip Greenlief is the founder of Evander Music; an independent record label presenting original composition, improvised music and jazz. Since 1986, his recordings and performances have received critical acclaim in Down Beat, All About Jazz, Jazz Times, Cadence, Modern Saxophone, InfraTunes (France), Altrisuoni (Italy), The Wire (London), Colossus (Finland), St. Petersburg Times (Russia), Cuademos de Jazz (Spain), New Jazz Improv (Portugal), Los Angeles Times, etc. His duo recordings of improvised music with bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Scott Amendola received 5 stars in the Music Hound Jazz Essential Album Guide. Recordings with the Lost Trio and his compositions on Russian Notebooks (w/PG & Covered Pages) were listed on the Critics' Top 10 Recording List of 2000 & 2001 (SF Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, East Bay Express, and Downtown Music Guide (NYC). He is a recipient of the San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award and was nominated for a 2013 composer residency at the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts.

"From standpoints of imagination, rhythm and technique (including circular breathing), Bay Arean Phillip Greenlief is one of the most astonishing saxists I've ever seen/heard." - Greg Burke, Metal Jazz

Greenlief began playing guitar and trumpet in elementary school and explored various instruments before discovering the saxophone in the mid-1970's. His ever-evolving relationship with the instrument continues to unfold with an expansive sound vocabulary, extreme dynamic range, a deep regard for melody and form, and a rollicking humor and wit that is not dissimilar to the Native American Coyote tales. As a composer, he has created nearly 300 works for practically every conceivable ensemble, including numerous pieces for solo saxophone, saxophone and string quartets, jazz ensembles, chamber groups, electro-acoustic improvisers, film projects, live theater, works for large ensemble and orchestra with choir. He is composer in residence with Rough and Tumble and teaches music at San Francisco Waldorf High School, and the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts. As an organizer, he has produced concerts for local musicians and internationally touring artists under the auspices of Evander Music Presents since 1997 and is currently serving as curator at Berkeley Arts.

"Phillip Greenlief is a reedman versatile enough to achieve anything except peace in Palestine" - LA WEEKLY

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Album Review

Phillip Greenlief and Jon Raskin: 2 + 2 with Shoko Hikage and Kanoko Nishi

Read "2 + 2 with Shoko Hikage and Kanoko Nishi" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

In the third decade of the 21st century saxophonists Jon Raskin and Phillip Greenlief have been slowly releasing albums from their 2+2 series. These are sessions, both improvised and using Raskin's graphic scores, which match Raskin and Greenlief with two other musicians who play the same instrument.. The second installment, the captivating 2+2 with Shoko Hikage and Kanoko Nishi, matches the saxophonists with two koto players. The koto is a plucked zither with a harp-like sound. Both Hikage ...

Album Review

Jon Raskin / Phillip Greenlief: 2 + 2 with Jen Baker & Liz Allbee

Read "2 + 2 with Jen Baker & Liz Allbee" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

Innovative saxophonists Jon Raskin and Phillip Greenlief use graphic scores for a series of recordings, each with a similar pair of instruments. These collaborations are called 2 + 2. The first of these is the provocative 2 + 2 with Jen Baker & Liz Allbee. As the title indicates Raskin and Greenlief join two brass players, trombonist Jen Baker and trumpeter Liz Allbee. The resulting music, both improvised and interpreted, is a stimulating conversation of four unique yet synergistic voices ...

Album Review

Jon Raskin: The Long Table

Read "The Long Table" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

Intrepid improviser and saxophonist Jon Raskin has kept busy during the covid-19 pandemic by releasing, for the first time, several of his past recordings. Of the many exciting albums he put out in 2021 on his own Temescal label, The Long Table stands out for a few reasons. As superb as the rest of his catalogue, this 2014 date has an infectious groove and a melodic structure different from Raskin's more experimental work. It also includes two covers, one penned ...

Album Review

Phillip Greenlief and Covered Pages: Russian Notebooks

Read "Russian Notebooks" reviewed by Mark Corroto

If you have ever been to Russia, the music Phillip Greenlief conjures will help replicate your experiences. Not the packaged, “See the Hermitage on your left, Winter Palace on you right” kind of tour. But the dyslexic effects of being lost in the darkest cities where you cannot read a street sign to save your life kind of vacation. Greenlief’s stay in St Petersburg in the summer 1998 forms the skeleton of what he describes as psychedelic heavy metal chamber ...

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Phillip Greenlief & Shudder at Zeitgeist/Space 186 Sunday, Nov. 19

Phillip Greenlief & Shudder at Zeitgeist/Space 186 Sunday, Nov. 19

Source: All About Jazz

s u b c o n s c i o u s c a f @ ZEITGEIST / SPACE 186 186 Hampshire St. Inman Sq. Cambridge, Mass. 02139 617.876.6060 ~ ALL AGES ~ www. zeitgeist-gallery.org

Sunday, 19 November 2006 8:00 - 11:30 $12 or b/o

rob chalfen & subconsciouscafe new chamber music presents

“SHUDDER" (Oakland, CA)

Phillip Greenlief - tenor sax Kyle Bruckman - oboe, English horn Lance Grabmiller - ...

Primary Instrument




Willing to teach

Advanced only


Study with Acclaimed Saxophonist Phillip Greenlief Lessons in woodwind performance, improvisation (any instrument), composition, theory/harmony are available at my studio or on at your home/studio. Sliding scale fee of $40 - $75 rate. I have 29 years experience as a professional musician, with over 25 internationally acclaimed recordings to date on CD. I have 19 years experience teaching in a variety of settings (one-on-one; workshops; elementary, secondary, university, and beyond) and have a warm and encouraging attitude with all of my students

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

2 + 2 with Shoko...

Self Produced


The Long Table



Lines Combined

Evander Music


Seared Circuit...

Evander Music


Phillip Greenlief...

Evander Music




Hank Mobley
saxophone, tenor
Tony Malaby
saxophone, tenor
Benjamin Koppel
saxophone, alto
Ben Wendel
Gino Robair
Paul Van Kemenade
saxophone, alto
Jon Raskin
saxophone, baritone

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