Fred Frith is a songwriter, composer, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist best known for the reinvention of the electric guitar that began with Guitar Solos in 1974.
He learned his craft as both improviser and composer playing in rock bands, notably Henry Cow, and creating music in the recording studio. Much of his compositional output has been commissioned by choreographers and filmmakers, but his work has also been performed by Ensemble Modern, Hieronymus Firebrain, Arditti Quartet, Ground Zero, Robert Wyatt, Bang on a Can All Stars, Concerto Köln, and Rova Sax Quartet, among many others.
He continues to perform internationally, most recently with Lotte Anker, Evelyn Glennie, Chris Cutler, John Zorn, Eye to Ear (a septet performing selections from his film music) and his latest band, Cosa Brava, whose first CD—Ragged Atlas—was released in 2010 to critical acclaim.
Fred is the subject of Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzels’ award-winning documentary film Step Across the Border.
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. 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.
"Phillip Greenlief is a reedman versatile enough to achieve anything except peace in Palestine" - LA WEEKLY
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; North Sea Festival in Den Hague; Freiburg Zelt Muzik Festival in Germany; Big Sur Sound Shift; Olympia Experimental Music Festival; Du Maurier Jazz Festival; Werkstatt fur Improvisierte Musik in Zurich; the Ulrichsburg Festival and the Konfrontation Festival in Nickelsdorf, Austria; the Isole Che Parlano Festival in Sardinia and 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.
"A local bay area treasure..." - Aquarius Music, SF
In addition to solo performance, Greenlief is currently active in duo with saxophonist David Boyce; the electro-acoustic trio shudder (w Kyle Bruckmann & Lance Grabmiller); FPR with saxophonists Frank Gratkowski and Jon Raskin; Orchestra Nostalgico (formerly The Clubfoot Orchestra), specializing in the music of classic film composers from Nino Rota to Bernard Herman; the 2 + 2 Project with Jon Raskin and an ever-revolving pair of like instruments; and the rock/thrash/metal extravaganza PG13, with John Shiurba and Thomas Scandura. He 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 18 years of redefining the term jazz standard.
"...the under-rated West Coast Saxophonist" - Art Lange, Epulse! Magazine