Composing for Improvisers

Tues. 8:15–9:45 pm 4/2 – 6/4 (9 weeks) no class 4/9

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Composing for Improvisers
Age Adult
Event Type Class
Department Composition and Arranging, Ensembles
Day Tue
Instructor Phillip Greenlief
Status inperson event

This class will explore how musicians and composers can provide different forms of stimulus to inspire players to make music. We will look at various kinds of composition strategies: graphic scores, text scores, prompts, number games, game strategies, hand signals, and other ways of instigating cues in the moment. Each week, participants will respond to specific styles of input from Greenlief and create new works. The classes will balance new ideas and stimuli with developing and performing student compositions. The class concludes with a performance during the Jazzschool student performance series.

Composer/Improviser Phillip Greenlief has been working in alternative composition methods for over 30 years, has been active in performing and recording those works internationally, and has a wealth of materials to share.


About Phillip Greenlief:

Phillip Greenlief, an accomplished saxophonist and composer, emerged on the West Coast in the late 1970s. His musical journey has garnered international critical acclaim for his recordings and performances across various genres. Collaborating with musicians and composers in the post-jazz continuum as well as new music innovators and virtuosic improvisers, Greenlief’s versatility knows no bounds. Notably, he has shared the stage with luminaries such as Wadada Leo Smith, Meredith Monk, Rashaun Mitchell, and They Might Be Giants.

His discography includes notable works such as LANTSKAP LOGIC with Fred Frith and Evelyn Davis, THAT OVERT DESIRE OF OBJECT with Joelle Leandre, and ALL AT ONCE with FPR (Frank Gratkowski, Jon Raskin, and Greenlief). Beyond performing, Greenlief contributes to the discourse through critical writing, with insights published in Artforum, open space (SFMOMA), and Signal to Noise.

In the words of Andrew Gilbert from the San Francisco Chronicle: “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.” Greenlief’s commitment to pushing artistic boundaries continues to resonate with audiences worldwide.