Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Artist phillip greenlief solo
Title seared circuit incident
Label Evander Music - Em 033 -
Released On 4/7/2006

This new disc by Evander Music founder Phillip Greenlief features a program of seven solo improvisations for tenor saxophone. Inspired by childhood memories and intrigued by the possibilities of the developing language of the saxophone, Seared Circuit Incident represents a step forward in the evolution of Oakland's indefatigueable saxophonist.

Recorded live in the studio with no overdubs or special effects.

*Pick of the week - WNUR 93.3 FM New York (May 15, 2006)

This is a deeply impressive program of solo tenor saxophone improvisations quite removed from traditional melody and pulse parameters. In several pieces Greenlief reveals concepts I've never heard before, especially on the first two tracks, which are among the most rapturous listening experiences I've had lately. "Crow" is the rousing, delicate whimpers, twitters and joyous cries of an unheard animal (note the title), with indecipherable yet riveting layers of emotional complexity. "Frogs" is wet, crackling textures layered on top of half-articulated long notes, a striking combination which I imagine to come from a microphone placed close to the mouth to foreground a sound territory usually minimized. Greenlief generally sustains a single area of sound production, producing meditative and textural passages brimming with lowercase detail.

With its sense of immersive, patient development and even yearning narrative at times, the music here should escape the common (and in my view invalid) complaint of "technique/vocabulary demonstration" levelled against other musicians working with unconventional/extended techniques. In fact, like recent solo works by Jack Wright and David Gross, I feel deeply engaged and moved by an underlying sense of raw human expression despite the surface of sonic strangeness and the avoidance of anything that could be considered conventionally expressive. Parts of the disc are aesthetic leaps on par with those two saxophonists and others like Michel Doneda, John Butcher, Bhob Rainey, Anthony Braxton, Stephane Rives, and Alessandro Bosetti, while other parts are no less compelling for their conceptual familiarity. While the first half or so of the disc is moderately active and dense, the last two cuts, "Moms" and "Pravda" go deep into a familiar zone of meditative restraint in which improvisational unpredictability and opacity coexist with tranquility and breath-awareness. Highly recommended!

-Michael Anton Parker, Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter, NYC