Phillip Greenlief – Trevor Dunn Duo

Greenlief, saxophones, flute; Dunn, contrabass, prepared contrabass


Phillip Greenlief, saxophones, flute
Trevor Dunn, contrabass, prepared contrabass

This duo was formed in 1994, after Trevor had joined the Odyssey Ensemble to play my extended work, “Love Song to the Episodes to James Joyce’s Ulysses”. We worked together as a duo regularly for nearly a year at Trevor’s place before we thought about gigging; we just let it develop slowly. We had a few gigs and did a recording session in my apartment with Jeff Cressman in the next room burning tape. We loved how it came out – so naturally really, so we just had to put it out.

Among the glowing reviews our record received, “untitled” was given the highest rating (equivalent to 5 stars) in the Music Hound 1998 Essential Album Guide.

“…features an exceptional series of improvised duets with bassist Dunn and Greenlief on tenor and soprano saxophones and various flutes. Tunes like “Itchy and Scratchy” and “Billie” demonstrate the pair’s range, from wild up-to-the-minute extraplations on a cartoon within a cartoon to a sensitive, evocative portait of Lady Day”. – Sam Prestiani, Music Hound Essential Album Guide

This disc, which we refused to entitle, was the second CD that Evander Music released, and I think it holds up. It captures the work we were doing in those days, where we would just jump in and start playing an improvisation with the force and intention you would use to dive into a piece of music that you had been playing for years.

Phillip Greenlief
Oakland, CA
March 2005



After completing his BA in music at Humboldt State University in 1990 Trevor Dunn moved to San Francisco where he lived for eight years continuing self-provoked studies of Dumitrescu, Messiaen, Slam Stewart & Peter Thomas among others. During this period Trevor became over-active in the Bay Area music scene and was featured on over 30 recordings working with such noted artists as Graham Connah, Ben Goldberg, John Schott, Bob Ostertag, Miya Masaoka and living legends Hal Stein & Donald “Duck” Bailey.

• In 1992 the rock group Mr. Bungle was commissioned by the Kronos quartet enabling Trevor to have his music performed at the Theatre Artaud in SF.
• At Mills College in Oakland Trevor performed with William Winant, James Tenney as well as with Terry Riley for the 30-year anniversary performance of “In C”.
• Trevor has also played with the ROVA sax quartet, Tom Waits, Wayne Horvitz, Gerry Hemmingway, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Kaiser, John Tchicai, Mark Izu, Francis Wong, Eyvind Kang, Omar Sosa and the late Don Cherry.
Junk Genius (anarchist be-bop found on the Knitting Factory label as well as Songlines) is one West Coast group that Trevor toured with in Europe, however, he was also able to work with East Coast musicians, touring with John Zorn’s Masada & Cobra and recording with Marty Erhlich and Ellery Eskelin. In 1996 he spent a month in Turkey with saxophonist Ilhan Ersahin.

For the past 15+ years Trevor has been known primarily as co-founder/composer & bassist of the avant-rock band Mr. Bungle (with 3 disks on the Warner Bros. Label). More recently he has become involved with Fantomas, a so-called super-group led by singer/composer Mike Patton which features the godfather of grunge Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins & the god of death metal drumming Dave Lombardo, formerly of Slayer. Not for the faint of heart this group could be described as Webern through a Marshall stack. Fantomas has just finished their second disc for Ipecac Recordings.

With a background in punk/death metal, the performance and compositional studies of contemporary classical music, and the experience in playing blues, standards and free-jazz, Trevor is now leading his own group Trio-Convulsant. The debut recording Debutantes & Centipedes, released in 1998 by Buzz records, examines a twisted side of the 20th century psyche. Deeply informed by the literary work of French Surrealists and the films of Bunuel, it is music that is characterized by curious juxtapositions, shameless passion, l’amour fou, the inquiry of Breton, the brutality of Lautreamont. Though eclectic, this music is not cut-and-paste; it is an organic reconciliation of the melodic and the non-melodic, the distorted and the clean, the growl of wood and the bite of metal. This CD has been reviewed favorably in Bass Player, Jazziz and Jazz Times Magazine among others.
Trevor relocated to New York City in 2000. In the few months that he has been there he has already recorded twice with John Zorn and performed with Tony Malaby, Anthony Coleman, Joe McPhee and Susie Ibarra.

In February Jon Deak performed Trevor’s piece “depaysement” for solo bass, commissioned by the Elaine Kaufman Cultural Center, at Merkin Hall Lincoln Center.
STUDIED BASS WITH: Red Callender, Mark Dresser, Stephen Tramontozzi & Donald Palma


Trevor and I play still play together today, although the cross country distance keeps it to no more than a performance or two every few years. It’s always great when it happens, and last year (2004) we did a nice concert with Ches Smith that was recorded. I’ll be reviewing that recording to see if there’s material for a CD. On first listen (a few months ago) it seemed as though there was more than enough material, so keep your eyes open it may emerge in the not too distant future.