Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Phillip Greenlief
musician skater film junkie
photo by chuck koton


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

phillip greenlief (b. 1959, los angeles)

Since his emergence on the west coast in the late 1970s, saxophonist/composer Phillip Greenlief has achieved international 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 with Wadada Leo Smith, Meredith Monk, Rashaun Mitchell and They Might Be Giants. Albums include LANTSKAP LOGIC with Fred Frith and Evelyn Davis, THAT OVERT DESIRE OF OBJECT with Joelle Leandre, ALL AT ONCE with FPR (Frank Gratkowski and Jon Raskin), and OH THAT MONSTER with LA punk pioneers Thelonious Monster. Recent residencies have included the Banff Center for Art and Creativity, Neue Muzik Koln, and Headlands Center for the Arts. 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 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 relationship with the instrument unfolds with an expansive sound vocabulary, extreme dynamic range, a regard for melody and form, and a rollicking humor that echoes the Native American Coyote tales. As a free improviser, he has performed internationally and appears on over 60 recordings on Clean Feed, Relative Pitch, Creative Sources, Eminem, 9 Winds, Rastascan, Edgetone Records, Evander Music, etc.). He has created over 400 compositions for a myriad of ensembles, including works for solo saxophone, jazz ensembles, chamber groups, electro-acoustic improvisers, film soundtracks, live theater, dance companies, large ensemble and orchestra with choir. He was composer in residence with Rough and Tumble from 1995 - 2005, teaches at the California Jazz Conservatory 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 Fred Frith, Joelle Leandre, Thomas Dimuzio, and 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 Angelica Sanchez and Tom Rainey, 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. 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 27 years of redefining the term jazz standard.

Greenlief has performed internationally in a variety of settings since 1982. In addition to club dates and touring in North and South America, Mexico, Canada, Russia 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, 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: with Jessica Ackerley, Bruce Ackley, Ashley Adams, Mark Adams, Steve Adams, Susan Alcorn, Lee Alexander, Liz Allbee, Sarmen Almond, Mercedes Alvarado, Laurie Amat, Scott Amendola, Ara Anderson, Gibran Andrade, Paolo Angeli, Jen Baker, Barnacled, Bonnie Barnett, Claire Elizabeth Barratt, Max Bennett, Will Bernard, Tim Berne, Emily Bezar, Tom Bickley, Big Lou's Polka Casserole, John Bischoff, Joe Bjornson, Jim Black, Myles Boisen, David Boyce, Anthony Braxton Creative Music Orchestra, German Bringas, Kenny Brooks, Broun Fellinis, Chris Brown, Sheldon Brown, Kyle Bruckmann, Jerome Breyerton, Hermann Buhler, Dennis Burke, Gust Burns, Alexandra Buschman, bush assassin, Taylor Ho Bynum, Cactus Truck, Adriana Camacho-Torres, JP Carter, Eugene Chadbourne, Kevin Cheli, Bill Clark, Alex Cline, Nels Cline, Steve Clover, Clubfoot Orchestra, George Coates Theater Works, Keller Coker, Alice Coltrane, India Cooke, James Cornish, Alessandro Cortini, Keith Compton, Matt Crane, George Cremaschi, Crushing Spiral Ensemble, Francesco Cusa, Beth Custer, Tim Daisy, Nicholas Damato, Matt Davignon, Evelyn Davis, Richard Davis, Marlies Debacker, 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, Alex Escalante, Karl Evangelista, Katie Faulkner, Tim Feeney, James Fei, Ken Filiano, Karen Fox, Danny Frankel, Dirk Freymuth, Erik Friedlander, Fred Frith, Gabby Fluke-Mogul, Wolfgang Fuchs, Raffi Garabedian, Christopher Garcia, Philip Gelb, Matylda Gerber, Hannes Giger, Jarrett Gilgore, Ben Goldberg, Vinny Golia, Lance Grabmiller, Frank Gratkowski, Michael Griener, Henry Grimes, Nora Hajos, Mary Halvorson, Paul Hartsaw, Tootie Heath, Ron Heglin, Mark Helias, Jesse Hewit, Shoko Hikage, Tyrone Hill's Deep Space Posse (featuring Marshall Allen), Devin Ray Hoff, Motoko Honda, Eleanor Hullihan, 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, Kip Kipperman, 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, Magda Mayas, Toshi Makihara, Tony Malaby, Michael Manring, Misha Marks, Bob Marsh, Eddie Marshall, Andrea Martignoni, Miya Masaoka, Nate McBride, Thollem McDonas, Dave McNab, Sean Meehan, Ava Mendoza, Madalyn Merkey, 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, Kyle Motl, Torsten Muller, Multiple Joy(ce) Orchestra (Koln), 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, Maggie Parkins, Zeena Parkins, Dan Peck, Bruno Pelletier-Bacquaert, Natalia Perez, Tim Perkis, Barre Phillips, Noah Phillips, Eli Pina, Ricardo Pittau, Jeff Platz, Dan Plonsey, Alexander Popov, Garth Powell, Kyle Quass, Bhob Rainey, Tom Rainey, Sly Randolf, Jon Raskin, Vicki Ray, Dana Reason, Alec Redfearn & the Eyesores, Amy Reed, Ted Reichman, Silas Riener, Danishta Rivero Castro, Gino Robair, Donald Robinson, Ernesto Rodriguez, Jill Rogers, 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, Sesion Libre Trio (mexico city), sfSound Group, Sharkiface, 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, Cecil Taylor, Chad Taylor, Carl Testa, Thelonious Monster, 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, Dylan van der Schyff, Michael Vatcher, Biggi Vinkeloe, Sabine Vogel, Michael Vlatkovich, Andrew Voigt, Weasel Walter, Jane Wang, Trevor Ware, Christian Weber, Marty Wehner, Ellen Weller, Rich West, Tom White, Andreas Willers, Sam Wilson, Ben Willis, Wobbly, Erling Wold, Kenny Wollesen, Francis Wong, 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

Contact information:
Email: phillip (DOT) greenlief (AT) gmail (DOT) com
Photo Albums (click to view photos):
CDs on which Phillip Greenlief appears:
Phillip Greenlief & Scott Amendola STAY WITH IT
Artist: Phillip Greenlief & Scott Amendola
Label: Clean Feed Records CF651CD
Label page on this site: Clean Feed Records
Clean Feed Records CF651CD
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