Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Phillip Greenlief
Woodwinds, Composer, Educator
photo by lenny gonzalez


SHORT BIO (for press kits, programs, etc.)

phillip greenlief (b. 1959, los angeles)

Since his emergence on the west coast in the late 1970s, Evander Music founder and saxophonist 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. He has performed and recorded with Wadada Leo Smith, Meredith Monk, Rashaun Mitchell and They Might Be Giants; albums include THAT OVERT DESIRE OF OBJECT with Joelle Leandre, ALL AT ONCE with FPR (Frank Gratkowski, Jon Raskin, Phillip Greenlief), LANTSKAP LOGIC with Fred Frith and Evelyn Davis (Clean Feed) and OH THAT MONSTER with LA punk pioneers Thelonious Monster.

Recent residencies have included the Banff Center for Art and Creativity, Headlands Center for the Arts, and from 2012 to 2014 he was the curator at Berkeley Arts, a home for progressive music. He is the recipient of a San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award. His critical writing has been published in ARTFORUM, Open Space (SFMOMA) and Signal to Noise.

"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 (



phillip greenlief (b. 1959, los angeles)

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

PG 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 echoes the Native American Coyote tales. As a free improviser, he has performed internationally and appears on over 40 recordings on numerous labels (Relative Pitch, Creative Sources, Eminem, 9 Winds, Edgetone Records, Evander Music, etc.). He has created over 400 compositions for a myriad of ensembles, including pieces for solo saxophone, jazz ensembles, chamber groups, electro-acoustic improvisers, film soundtracks, live theater, dance companies, works for large ensemble and orchestra with choir. He was composer in residence with Rough and Tumble from 1995 - 2005 and is currently director of music instruction at San Francisco Waldorf High School. As an organizer, he has produced concerts for local musicians and internationally touring artists under the auspices of Evander Music Presents since 1997.

In addition to solo performance, Greenlief is active in animals & giraffes, a collaboration with writer Claudia La Rocco and an ever-changing roster of improvising multi-media artists - in duo with guitar genius Fred Frith, bassist Joelle Leandre, electronic music wizard Thomas Dimuzio, and pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn; in trio with dancers Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener. He also be heard in trios with electro-acoustic trio with John Bischoff and Karen Stackpole, New York-based unit with pianist Angelica Sanchez and drummer Sam Ospovat, in FPR with fellow saxophonists Frank Gratkowski and Jon Raskin; the 2 + 2 Project with Jon Raskin and an ever-revolving pair of like instruments; the rock/thrash/metal extravaganza PG13, with John Shiurba and Thomas Scandura; the large ensemble Orchestra Nostalgico, specializing in film music of Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone, Bernard Herman and others; and OrcheSperry, a large ensemble dedicated to performing works by Greenlief and other local SF Bay Area composers. Greenlief is a mainstay in the bay area improvised music scene, working frequently with a host of local and international ad hoc ensembles. Along with bassist Dan Seamans and drummer Tom Hassett he is a member of The Lost Trio, now celebrating 24 years of redefining the term jazz standard.

Greenlief has performed internationally in a variety of settings since 1982. In addition to club dates and concert tours across North America and Europe, he has performed at the 1st Annual John Coltrane Festival in Los Angeles, Seattle Improvised Music Festival; Freiburg Zelt Muzik Festival in Germany; Big Sur Sound Shift; Olympia Experimental Music Festival; Du Maurier Jazz Festival; the WIM in Zurich; the Ulrichsburg Festival and the Konfrontation Festival in Nickelsdorf, Austria; the Isole Che Parlano Festival in Sardinia, the 2003 Biennale in Venice Italy; and the International Festival of Arts in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 1998 he lived in St. Petersburg (Russia) where in addition to playing solo he performed and recorded with several jazz groups, singer-songwriter Yelena Kolokolnikova, and the Russian folk ensemble Dubinushka.

Phillip Greenlief has performed or recorded with Bruce Ackley, Ashley Adams, Steve Adams, Susan Alcorn, Lee Alexander, Liz Allbee, Scott Amendola, Ara Anderson, Paolo Angeli, Jen Baker, Barnacled, Bonnie Barnett, Claire Elizabeth Barratt, Max Bennett, Will Bernard, Emily Bezar, Tom Bickley, Big Lou's Polka Casserole, John Bischoff, Joe Bjornson, Myles Boisen, David Boyce, Anthony Braxton Creative Music Orchestra, Kenny Brooks, Broun Fellinis, Chris Brown, Sheldon Brown, Kyle Bruckmann, Jerome Breyerton, Hermann Buhler, Dennis Burke, Gust Burns, bush assassin, Taylor Ho Bynum, Cactus Truck, JP Carter, Eugene Chadbourne, Bill Clarke, Alex Cline, Steve Clover, Nels Cline, Clubfoot Orchestra, George Coates Theater Works, Keller Coker, India Cooke, James Cornish, Keith Compton, George Cremaschi, Crushing Spiral Ensemble, Francesco Cusa, Beth Custer, Matt Davignon, Evelyn Davis, Richard Davis, Les DeMerle, Stuart Dempster, Robert Dick, Dieb13, Frank Difficult, Jorrit Dijkstra, Thomas Dimuzio, Tom Djll, Sasha Dobson, Smith Dobson III, Michel Doneda, Bill Douglass, Mark Dresser, Andrew Drury, Trevor Dunn, Tim DuRoche, Dominic DuVal, Harris Eisenstadt's Ahimsa Orchestra, Lisle Ellis, Michelle Ellsworth, Alessandra Eramo, Dina Emerson, Marco Eneidi's American Jungle Orchestra, Korhan Erel, Karl Evangelista, Katie Faulkner, James Fei, Ken Filiano, Karen Fox, Danny Frankel, Dirk Freymuth, Erik Friedlander, Fred Frith, Wolfgang Fuchs, Philip Gelb, Hannes Giger, Ben Goldberg, Vinny Golia, Lance Grabmiller, Georg Graeve, Frank Gratkowski, Michael Griener, Henry Grimes, Nora Hajos, Mary Halvorson, Paul Hartsaw, Tootie Heath, Ron Heglin, Mark Helias, Shoko Hikage, Tyrone Hill's Deep Space Posse (featuring Marshall Allen), Devin Ray Hoff, Motoko Honda, Nathan Hubbard, Carl Ludwig Hubsch, Charlie Hunter, Matt Ingalls, Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet, Aurora Josephson, Henry Kaiser, Achim Kaufmann, Elliot Humberto Kavee, Kaleidoscopic Sextet, David Kendall, Mike Khoury, Jmy James Kidd, Carla Kihlstedt, Kyoko Kitamura, Kasey Knudsen, Benjamin Kreith, Oliver Lake, Adam Lane, Claudia La Rocco, Gabriel Lauber, Joelle Leandre, Cheryl Leonard, Adam Levy, Steuart Liebig, Steve Lockwood Ensemble, The Lost Trio, Maya Magdas, Toshi Makihara, Tony Malaby, Michael Manring, Bob Marsh, Eddie Marshall, Andrea Martignoni, Miya Masaoka, Thollem McDonas, Dave McNab, Sean Meehan, Ava Mendoza, Lisa Mezzacappa, Mills College Contemporary Performance Ensemble, Roberto Miranda, Billy Mintz, Rashaun Mitchell, Ed Mock, Hafez Modirzadeh, Meredith Monk, Eddie Moore, Gregg Moore, Michael Moore, Tony Moreno, Joe Morris, Manuel Mota, Jesse Yusef Murphy, Simon Nabotov, Tatsuya Nakitani, Maggie Nichols, Per-Anders Nillson, Kanoko Nishi, Oakland Active Orchestra, Oakland Bandemonium, John O'Keefe, Pauline Oliveros' Sounding the Margins Orchestra, OrcheSperry, Orchestra Nostalgico, Matthew Ostrowski, Tom Osuna, William Parker, Andrea Parkins, Zeena Parkins, Dan Peck, Bruno Pelletier-Bacquaert, Tim Perkis, Barre Phillips, Noah Phillips, Ricardo Pittau, Dan Plonsey, Alexander Popov, Garth Powell, Bhob Rainey, Tom Rainey, Sly Randolf, Jon Raskin, Dana Reason, Alec Redfearn & the Eyesores, Amy Reed, Ted Reichman, Silas Riener, Gino Robair, Donald Robinson, Ernesto Rodriguez, Jill Rodgers, Scott Rosenberg, Ken Rosser, David Rothbaum, Rough & Tumble, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Ray Russell, Angelica Sanchez, Richard Saunders, Ignaz Schick, Elizabeth Schenck, Sue Schlotte, Sara Schoenbeck, Amanda Schoofs, John Schott, Monica Scott, Jonathan Segal, sfSound Group, Aram Shelton, John Shiurba, Damon Short, shudder, Todd Sickafoose, Fausto Sirakowski, Waddada Leo Smith, Ches Smith, Damon Smith, Jimmy Smith, Glenn Spearman, Spirit, Karen Stackpole, Moe! Staiano, GE Stinson, Carl Stone, John Stowell, Joe Strummer, Tom Swafford, Agnes Szelag, Horace Tapscott, Natsuki Tamura, Tango #9, Chad Taylor, Carl Testa, Cecil Taylor, Sonship Theus, Eric Thielmans, They Might Be Giants, Iluyemi Thomas, Suzanne Thorpe, Lauren Tietz, Tiger Lillies, Astrid Thiersch, Tri-Axium West Orchestra (performing music of Anthony Braxton), Trio Putanesca, Bertram Turetsky, Michael Vatcher, Biggi Vinkeloe, Nadezhda Voskaboynik, Michael Vlatkovich, Andrew Voigt, Weasel Walter, Jane Wang, Trevor Ware, Christian Weber, Marty Wehner, Ellen Weller, Rich West, Tom White, Andreas Willers, Ben Willis, Wobbly, Erling Wold, Kenny Wollesen, Theresa Wong, Nate Wooley, Katrina Wreede, Jack Wright, "Senator" Eugene Wright, William Wynant, Ottomo Yoshihide, and Pamela Z.

Saxophonist Phillip Greenlief has long been one of the most aggressively active but subtle-of-profile musicians in the Bay Area's endlessly burgeoning jazz scene. His literate, deconstructionist playing has graced the music of everyone from Anthony Braxton to They Might Be Giants, and his own projects have ranged from theater and dance scores to solo saxophone tours of Russia. For the last few years Greenlief and his Evander Music label have been at the forefront of defining a new generation of jazz musicians, artists who have truly and fully absorbed the full breadth of the last few decades of experimental and popular genres and are using all of that knowledge to invent the future of the music".
-SAM MICKENS, Portland Messenger

"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." - Metal Jazz

"A galvanizing force on the Bay Area music scene for three decades, (Greenlief) has been a tireless organizer and grassroots networker with a knack for bringing musicians together in a constantly shifting array of settings, from solo recitals and one-off free improv sessions to ongoing concert series, international collaborations, and long-running ensembles that have honed singular sounds. A thoughtful and passionate improviser perfectly at home in unstructured musical settings, he's also a prolific composer." - East Bay Express

"...the under-rated West Coast Saxophonist" - Art Lange, Epulse!


Trio Putanesca: Who Ordered the Fish? – w/PG, tenor saxophone; Adam Levy, guitar & Dan Seamans, bass – Evander Music 001

collect my thoughts - duo w/drummer Scott Amendola - Nine Winds Records (NWCD 0185)

Phillip Greenlief Trevor Dunn - duo with bassist Trevor Dunn – Em 002

Ashley Adams Trio: Flowers for Mrs. Dalloway - w/Adams & Michel Dumonceau – Em 003

Trio Putanesca: Live at Yoshi’s - Em 005

Remembrance of Songs Past – Lost Trio, w/Dan Seamans, bass; Tom Hassett, drums - Em 006

Russian Notebooks – PG & Covered Pages – w/ Nels Cline, Vinny Golia, & GE Stinson – Em 007

American Jungle Orchestra – w/ Marco Eneidi, Leo Smith, B. Turetsky, etc. – Botticelli 1012/13

Live at Avalon & The Graves – w/Lost Trio, with special guest, Adam Levy - Em 014

stalking andrei - phillip greenlief solo - Em 024

The Lost Trio - Boxcar Samovar, w/ Phillip Greenlief, Dan Seamans & Tom Hassett - Em 016

Harris Eisenstadt - Ahimsa Orchestra - Nine Winds - NWCD 0237

Seared Circuit Incident - phillip greenlief solo - Em 033

That Overt Desire of Object - duo w/bassist Joelle Leandre - Relative Pitch Records

The Lost Trio - Mysterious Toboggan - Em 054

lines combined - phillip greenlief solo - Em 056

Scott Pinkmountain and the Golden Bolts of Tone - The Full Sun

Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet - Epigraph Records (LP)

FPR - All At Once - with saxophonists Frank Gratkowsi & Jon Raskin - Relative Pitch Records

Orchestra Nostalgico - Plays the Music of Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone, Bernard Hermann and more

The Lost Trio - KNOWMONK - Evander Music - (NPR's Top 10 jazz albums of 2015)

Jorrit Dijkstra - Music for Winds and Electronics - driff records

Henry Kaiser and Ray Russell - The Celestial Squid - Cuneiform Records

Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet 2 (LP) - Sparkling Beatnik Records

Phillip Greenlief, Ernesto Rodrigues, Tom Swafford - Siderejus Nuncius - Creative Sources (Portugal)

Phillip Greenlief solo @ the David Ireland House (LP) - 500 Capp Street Foundation (2016)

Grosse Abfahrt : Luftschifffeiertagserinnerungfotoalbum w/Frank Gratkowski, Kjell Nordeson Lisa Mezzacapa John Bischoff Tom Djll Gino Robair Tim Perkis Matt Ingals John Shiurba - Setola di Maiale SM 3220

Greenlief, Paul Hartsaw, Clifton Hyde, Damon Short - CHICAGO VECTORS - metastablesound release

animals and giraffes - JULY - Edgetone Records

animals and giraffes - LANDLOCKED BEACH (with jon leidecker) - creative sources (portugal)

PG13 (w/John Shiurba and Tom Scandura) - self titled - Edgetone Records


BELLINGHAM FOR DAVID IRELAND (commissioned by 500 Capp Street Foundation) PG, with aurora josephson, wobbly, karen stackpole, gabby fluke-mogul, kip kipperman, zachary james watkins, carl ludwig hubsch

BARBEDWIRE 1 (Greenlief's 37 graphic scores for trio) with kyle bruckmann, jane rigler, tim perkis, john bischoff, evelyn davis, gabby fluke-mogul, tim de cillis, mark clifford

OH THAT MONSTER - with LA punk pioneers Thelonious Monster

BARBEDWIRE - 37 GRAPHIC SCORES FOR TRIO by Phillip Greenlief, featuring John Bischoff and Tim Perkis (electronics); Tim de Cillis and Mark Clifford (vibraphones); Kyle Bruckmann and Jane Rigler (winds); Evelyn Davis and Gabby Fluke-Mogul (prepared piano and violin).



STAY WITH IT - duo with Scott Amendola (relative pitch records)

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Contact information:
Email: phillip (DOT) greenlief (AT) gmail (DOT) com
Upcoming Events:

Tuesday, August 16 2022 7:00 PM
Salesforce Park [425 Mission St Main Plaza San Francisco]
Citta di Vitti

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Photo Albums (click to view photos):
CDs on which Phillip Greenlief appears:
Artist: Phillip Greenlief
Label: Edgetone Records
Label page on this site: Edgetone Records
Edgetone Records
Tim Walters Shatter in Place
Artist: Tim Walters
Title: Shatter in Place
Label: Bandcamp
Label page on this site: Bandcamp
phillip greenlief solo seared circuit incident
Artist: phillip greenlief solo
Title: seared circuit incident
Label: Evander Music Em 033
Label page on this site: Evander Music
Evander Music Em 033
Phillip Greenlief - Joelle Leandre Duo That Overt Desire of Object
Artist: Phillip Greenlief - Joelle Leandre Duo
Title: That Overt Desire of Object
Label: Evander Music Em 035
Label page on this site: Evander Music
Evander Music Em 035
Phillip Greenlief - Andreas Willers Duo The Tao of Electricity
Artist: Phillip Greenlief - Andreas Willers Duo
Title: The Tao of Electricity
Label: Evander Music Em 036
Label page on this site: Evander Music
Evander Music Em 036
phillip greenlief solo lines combined
Artist: phillip greenlief solo
Title: lines combined
Label: Evander Music Em 056
Label page on this site: Evander Music
Evander Music Em 056
Marco Eneidi American Jungle Orchestra
Artist: Marco Eneidi
Title: American Jungle Orchestra
Label: Botticelli 1012-13
Label page on this site: Botticelli
Botticelli 1012-13
Trio Putanesca Who Ordered the Fish?
Artist: Trio Putanesca
Title: Who Ordered the Fish?
Label: Evander Music EM 001
Label page on this site: Evander Music
Evander Music EM 001
Phillip Greenlief - Trevor Dunn Untitled
Artist: Phillip Greenlief - Trevor Dunn
Title: Untitled
Label: Evander Music Em 002
Label page on this site: Evander Music
Evander Music Em 002
Ashley Adams Trio Flowers for Mrs. Dalloway
Artist: Ashley Adams Trio
Title: Flowers for Mrs. Dalloway
Label: Evander Music Em 003
Label page on this site: Evander Music
Evander Music Em 003
Trio Putanesca Live at Yoshi's
Artist: Trio Putanesca
Title: Live at Yoshi's
Label: Evander Music Em 005
Label page on this site: Evander Music
Evander Music Em 005
Lost Trio Remembrance of Songs Past
Artist: Lost Trio
Title: Remembrance of Songs Past
Label: Evander Music Em 006
Label page on this site: Evander Music
Evander Music Em 006
Phillip Greenlief & Covered Pages Russian Notebooks, Volume 1
Artist: Phillip Greenlief & Covered Pages
Title: Russian Notebooks, Volume 1
Label: Evander Music Em 007
Label page on this site: Evander Music
Evander Music Em 007
Phillip Greenlief - Scott Amendola duo Collect My Thoughts
Artist: Phillip Greenlief - Scott Amendola duo
Title: Collect My Thoughts
Label: 9 Winds Records NWCD 0185
Label page on this site: 9 Winds Records
9 Winds Records NWCD 0185
Crushing Spiral Ensemble The Count of San Francisco
Artist: Crushing Spiral Ensemble
Title: The Count of San Francisco
Label: mattsmall 2
Label page on this site: mattsmall
mattsmall 2
Du-Bop Sound Live at Philharmonic Hall
Artist: Du-Bop Sound
Title: Live at Philharmonic Hall
Label: JFC Jazz
Label page on this site: JFC Jazz
JFC Jazz
The Lost Trio with special guest Adam Levy Live at Avalon & The Graves
Artist: The Lost Trio with special guest Adam Levy
Title: Live at Avalon & The Graves
Label: Evander Music Em 014
Label page on this site: Evander Music
Evander Music Em 014
phillip greenlief solo Stalking Andrei
Artist: phillip greenlief solo
Title: Stalking Andrei
Label: Evander Music Em 023
Label page on this site: Evander Music
Evander Music Em 023
Andrew Gilbert (07/18/2011)
The Humble Life of Phillip Greenlief
Phillip Greenlief (08/29/2004)
A Look Through the Keyhole at John Shiurba’s 5 X 5
Phillip Greenlief (07/04/2001)
sfSound Group @ ODC
Derk Richardson (11/08/2000)
Goldie Award article on Phillip Greenlief