|This is Bay area reedsman Phillip Greenlief's first solo sax effort. He is playing B-flat clarinet, soprano, alto & tenor saxes. Featured here are a couple of original pieces, dedicated to Marion Brown & Sarah Taylor Boehm plus pieces by Joelle Leandre, Frank Gratkowski, Roscoe Mitchell and Pauline Oliveros. We know of Phillip from the five CDs he has done on Evander & Nine Winds, where he has collaborated with Nels & Alex Cline, Vinny Golia, Trevor Dunn and Scott Amendola.
Although solo sax efforts are not that uncommon by now, they are still a challenge for anyone who tries. Think of Braxton, Evan Parker, Steve Lacy or Lol Coxhill. Each of the seven pieces here is dedicated to another artist or inspiration. On "deconstruction meditations", Phillip does indeed rearrange bits of Berio, Monk and Stravinsky for clarinet, carefully weaving one section at a time in a string of connected fragments. Joelle Leandre, French contrabassist supreme who is teaching at Mills College also in the Bay area, composed "untitled composition" and Phillip twists the quirky, playful lines on his soprano into lots of odd shapes. Phillip's own "improvised miniatures" is dedicated to Marion Brown, sixties free-jazz sax legend who has been very ill for the past few years. The tapping of pads on the tenor sax is just as loud as the fractured notes that come in select spurts, giving the piece some rhythmic undertow.
German sax great Frank Gratkowski's "epitasis" is filled with notes that are slightly stretched out, before the more intense squawking begins and ends again with flutters of elongated notes. Roscoe Mitchell's "rs3" is quiet, sorta melodic piece, with a nice hypnotic repeating line. "portrait of phillip greenlief" was composed by Pauline Oliveros and it is the longest track here. Phillip slowly stretches out notes on his soprano, concentrating on and bending one or two notes at a time. This piece has a fine balance of both somber and slightly twisted turns and eventually spinning quickly into more Braxtonian terrain. It sounds as if Phillip is walking around at certain points, perhaps notated by ever questioning spirit of Pauline. The closing piece is his own "stalking Andrei", a haunting work for slow moving tenor sax. A strong and varied program that requires a bit of patience for its subtle yet rich rewards.
-taken from the Downtown Music Gallery website