Michael Zilber Bio

SF-based Saxophonist and Composer Michael Zilber is described by NEA JAZZ MASTER and jazz legend David Liebman as “one of the best players and composers around anywhere. Period!” The Canadian-born ex-New Yorker has 10 CDs to his name as a leader or co-leader. He has also been a sideman on a  number of recordings, and, over the years, has performed/toured/or recorded with everyone from Liebman to Steve Smith to Bob Berg to Dizzy Gillespie, among many others.  

Zilber co-led a band with drumming great Steve Smith for 8 years, releasing the top 20 Blue Jay Jazz recording “Reimagined: Jazz Standards, Volume 1” in 2003. His newest recording is “Live Beauty” (Origin - 2015), which made Downbeat Magazine’s best CDs of the year list for 2015, as well as garnering rave reviews from Jazz Times and All About Jazz. “Live Beauty” was a follow up to the group’s “Shot Through With Beauty” on independent jazz label of the year Origin Records, which NPR jazz critic Andrew Gilbert picked as a top 10 record of the year. These recordings are co-led with guitar great John Stowell. “On Turning Ten: The Billy Collins Project” from 2010, musical settings of the American Poet Laureate’s poems, also on Origin Records, was hailed by Jazz Times’ Bill Milkowski as a work of art of the highest order.

Current groups Zilber leads or co-leads include his “Originals for the Originals” Project, with a CD of the same name to be released in January 2017 on Origin Records, featuring Dave Kikoski, James Genus and Clarence Penn. As well, his quartet with Stowell, formed in 2007, released Basement Blues in Summer 2016, the group’s 3rd CD on Origin. Lastly, Zilber leads Weather Wayne, his electric jazz homage to Wayne Shorter, and a group that recently played for a sold out house at SFJAZZ.

Zilber is a sideman in various projects, including being a member of the acclaimed Trumpeter/Composer Erik Jekabson’s Stringtet and the highly regarded Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, the Bay Area’s top big band, which recently released the CD “Cheap Rent” (Origin 2015), receiving 4.5 stars in Downbeat. In Berkeley, California, he leads the multiple Downbeat-award winning Jazzschool Advanced High School Jazz Workshop, as well as overseeing the composition program and teaching ensembles at the California Jazz Conservatory. He has a Doctorate from NYU, a Masters from Tufts, and a Bachelor’s from New England Conservatory, all in composition.