Phillip Greenlief, saxophones; Dan Seamans, bass; Tom Hassett, drums
The Lost Trio was formed in 1994 by Phillip Greenlief, Dan Seamans & Tom Hassett and stepped into existence with a steady every Thursday night gig at The Rose Pistola in San Francisco's North Beach district. This residency was followed by four year stint on Sundays at Cato's Ale House in Oakland. The Lost Trio has a history of touring that has focused on venues up and down the west coast, where they have also enjoyed many live radio appearances and in-store performances. The groups' repertoire began with a program of mainly standards by Thelonious Monk, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and others before veering into other sources. Since then, the group has fashioned a very unique collection of over 600 songs that range from composers as diverse as Hank Williams, Nino Rota, Steve Lacy, Carla Bley, Billy Stranhorn, Mel Tillis, The Grateful Dead, and PJ Harvey; not to mention numerous original compositions by Lost Trio members Phillip Greenlief and Dan Seamans.
The Lost Trio recorded its first CD, REMEMBRANCE OF SONGS PAST, in 1994 and the disc was released in 1995, earning a "Pick of the Month" (December 1995) in All About Jazz Magazine while also receiving glowing reviews from numerous other publications.
The Lost Trio's second recording is the two release set, LIVE AT AVALON & THE GRAVES, with guest guitarist Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman). "Live at Avalon & The Graves" was listed #1 Jazz Recording of 2000 by the San Jose Mercury News, and was listed on two other Top 10 Recordings lists in the East Bay Express and the San Francisco Chronicle. Disc 1 was recorded at the Morris Graves Museum of Art (Friday night) and Disc 2 was recorded at Avalon in Eureka, CA (Saturday night). Beverley Wolfe produced the recordings for both sessions and is owner at Avalon, home of some one of the finest dining experiences on the north coast.
The group's 3rd recording, BOXCAR SAMOVAR (2004) continued to feature the trio's nearly-surreal repertoire, careening recklessly from Hank Williams, Billy Strayhorn and Radiohead to the Grateful Dead, Thelonious Monk, and Carla Bley. The group's live set at that time included works by film composers Nino Rota, Angelo Badalamente and Giovanni Fusco.
Bassist Dan Seamans was the driving force behind PLAYS THE SOLID GOLD HITS (2007), arranging many of the off the beaten track repertoire from popular composers. Tunes by The Beatles, Bjork, Beck, Black Sabbath, The Band, and Juana Molina populate the microgrooves and offer imaginative recreations with the band's stripped down sound.
MYSTERIOUS TOBOGGAN (2011) returns with the kind of repertoire and "loose-limbed" feeling the band is known for, along with three new compositions by Greenlief and Seamans.
The Lost Trio celebrates their 20th anniversary in 2014 with the release of KNOWMONK, which features a new approach to the presentation of compositions by Thelonious Monk. The trio's 5th CD on Evander Music is already receiving airplay and making its way into the hands of the national press.
"Though every Bay Area jazz fan knows the Lost Trio, we get 'em only about once a year, so consider this 10th-anniversary epiphany an occasion. Bassist Dan Seamans' meditative introduction to Radiohead's muezzinlike "Pyramid Song" eases you into Boxcar Samovar, the trio's new masterwork; his caressing touch, coupled with phrasing that's the aural equivalent of eye contact, announces the group's philosophy. Drummer Tom Hassett flicks like chopsticks on the ride cymbal and rolls almost subliminally on the toms through tunes by Monk, Strayhorn and Carla Bley. And admirers of Mark Turner or Joe Lovano should soak up Philip Greenlief's golden tone, shaded dynamics and backlit line conception, and see if he's not blowing the most tenor of anybody right now, evoking Trane and Shepp while remaining all Greenlief."
-Greg Burk, LA Weekly
"The Lost Trio is a loose-limbed band marked by an off-the-cuff poetic sensibility, full of earthy humor and soaring lyricism."
-Andrew Gilbert - San Francisco Chronicle
"Think of the early musical joy and humor of Sonny Rollins' early trios and the haunting beauty of Jimmy Giuffre's small groups. That is a good place to start when contemplating The Lost Trio. The three players click together remarkably well: Greenlief's lyrical, yet hard-edged tenor, a fully orchestral Seamans' bass and the sensitive, swinging drums of Tom Hassett."
- Grego Applegate Edwards, Cadence Magazine
"In full possession of the concept of interplay, the members of The Lost Trio have equal weight in the construction of the music and contribute balanced possibilities through the extension of their own rich musical dowries."
- Altrisuoni (Naples, Italy)
I grew up in Washington, DC, where I played bass guitar and occasionally pedal steel in rock bands with my friends. During my freshman year at the University of California at Santa Cruz I began studying the string bass. My teachers were Larry Epstein, from the SF Symphony, and then Mel Graves. Mel Graves encouraged me to quit my job as assistant with a tree surgeon and to get serious about practicing with these words. “If you keep playing like that you’re going to be NJ Dan. Do you know what that means? It means no job Dan.” Another great teacher whom I have studied with very sporadically is Michael Willens. I advise any bass players who read this to take a lesson from him. I graduated from UCSC with a degree in music. The best part of that program was the community of students and professors David Cope and Gil Miranda, both of whom loved music and teaching.
After graduation I continued to live in Santa Cruz for a few years. There were some great players there that I learned a lot from, some of whom I am fortunate to be collaborating with still, for example Graham Connah. Eventually I moved with friends to Oakland, where I was able to deepen my understanding of jazz by playing with three great musicians and educators: Bill Bell, Donald Bailey, and Mark Levine. Around this time Ben Goldberg, Kenny Wollesen and I formed the New Klezmer Trio, where we started by asking the question, “What would klezmer music sound like now if it had evolved continuously since the 1940’s?”
In the early 1990’s I moved with my wife and young daughter to New York. We didn’t stay long enough to accomplish much musically, but I enjoyed occasional jam sessions with inspiring musicians whose names I won’t mention because it seems too much like name-dropping, considering that I only played with them a couple of times and there are so many other musicians that I had more meaningful associations with that I have left out of this bio. In general, it is pretty hard to write something like this without having it turn into a long list of names that would be pretty boring to anyone but me, because one of the best things about music is that you get to spend time with other players and these relationships are the most important thing, really. To give just one example, I haven’t said anything about the guitarist and composer John Schott, who is a dear friend and someone that I have played with off and on for about fifteen years. So to get back to the timeline, after New York we spent a year and a half living in Southern Vermont, where our son was born. Here I was mentored by the great guy and guitarist Attila Zoller. During this period of living on the east coast I was also fortunate to go on several European tours with the New Klezmer Trio.
We moved back to Berkeley in 1994, where I have enjoyed being part of the jazz and improvised music scene. My major musical associations in recent years have been with the Lost Trio (with Phillip Greenlief and Tom Hasset) and with the singer/songwriter Sonya Hunter. I recorded a cd of compositions and improvisations with Carla Kihlstedt and Elliot Kavee that also features my dubious vocal “talents” several years ago, but I just haven’t gotten around to releasing this yet.
A stealth member of the SF Bay Area jazz community for over 20 years, Tom Hassett studied drums and overall outlook with Jerry Granelli in the mid-seventies and spent five years in the then thriving Sonoma County jazz scene before returning to San Francisco. His musical alliances include two years (1998-2000) with the Susan Chen Trio at Harris’ restaurant and his continuing work with the Lost Trio (11 years). Tom is currently working in a piano trio with Paul Mindrup and Scott Chapek and his most recent influences include Johnny Vidacovich and Shelby Lynne.
”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
Since his emergence on the west coast in the late 1970’s, Evander Music founder Phillip Greenlief has achieved international critical acclaim for his recordings and performances with musicians and composers in the post-jazz continuum as well as new music innovators and virtuosic improvisers. His ever-evolving relationship with the saxophone unfolds with an expansive sound vocabulary, a deep regard for melody and form and a rollicking humor and wit that is not dissimilar to the Native American Coyote tales. 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.
Recipient of the San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award
"...the under-rated West Coast Saxophonist"
- Art Lange, Epulse! Magazine
"Phillip Greenlief is a reedman versatile enough to achieve anything except peace in Palestine"
- Greg Burk, LA WEEKLY