Short Bio

San Francisco Bay Area based saxophonist and composer Michael Zilber is described by NEA Jazz Master David Liebman as “one of the best players and composers around anywhere. Period!” The Canadian-born ex-New Yorker has performed and/or recorded with many jazz luminaries over the years, from Liebman to Miroslav Vitous, Mike Clark, Steve Smith and Bob Berg, to name just a very few. Says ALL ABOUT JAZZ,  “Zilber is one of the true masters of modern jazz saxophone, his prodigious talents evidenced by his recordings and live performances are truth.”

Zilber has co-led several notable groups, including with drumming great Steve Smith for eight years, releasing the top 20 recording Reimagined: Jazz Standards, Volume 1 in 2003. As well, for more than a decade, Zilber has frequently collaborated with guitar virtuoso  John Stowell, most recently on 2016’s Basement Blues, on which All About Jazz’s Dan McClenaghan hails  Zilber as “soulful and flawless”. Their 2015 Origin Records recording Live Beauty, made DownBeat magazine’s “best of the year” list for 2015

Zilber has 12 CDs to his credit as a leader, the last 6 on JAZZWEEK Independent Jazz Label of the year  Origin Records

Among these are “Originals for the Originals” project, a 2017 Origin album release  featuring high-profile sidemen Dave Kikoski, James Genus and Clarence Penn.  ALL ABOUT JAZZ’s Paul Rauch opines “Originals For the Originals is a top 10 of 2017 candidate without a doubt.” His latest release,  East West: Music for Big Bands is a beautifully packaged double CD consisting of an all-star New York and all-star SF big band.  As described by leading Jazz Journalist Andrew Gilbert, “East West – Music for Big Bands embraces multiplicity.It’s beauty AND burn, intense swing AND sweet balladry, all united under Zilber’s commanding and ever expanding creative purview.

Zilber is also a sideman in or part of a collective in various prominent projects, including  Bass virtuoso Kai Eckhardt’s The Resilience,  drumming legend Mike Clark’s “four…and more”, top Trumpet/composer Erik Jekabson’s Stringtet, and playing in and writing for SF-based Electric Squeezebox Orchestra.

In Berkeley, California, he leads the multiple DownBeat award-winning Jazzschool Jazz Workshop, as well as teaching composition, advanced improv and ensembles at the California Jazz Conservatory. Zilber holds a Doctorate in composition from NYU.