Burton Greene

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Burton Greene (born June 14, 1937) is a free jazz pianist born in Chicago, Illinois, though most known for his work in New York City. He has explored a variety of genres, including avant-garde jazz and the Klezmer medium.


Greene played during the 1960s on New York's free jazz scene, gigging with well-known musicians which included Alan Silva and Marion Brown, among a host of others. With Alan Silva he formed the Free Form Improvisation Ensemble in 1963.[1] He joined Bill Dixon's and Cecil Taylor's Jazz Composers Guild in 1964, and also played with a number of other artists, including Rashied Ali, Albert Ayler, Gato Barbieri, Byard Lancaster, Sam Rivers, Patty Waters, and others. During this time, he recorded two albums under his own name for ESP-Disk.

He moved to Europe in 1969, first to Paris. Since then he has been living in Amsterdam and played with such Dutch musicians as Maarten Altena and Willem Breuker. During the late 1980s he began exploring the Klezmer tradition in his groups Klezmokum (along with Perry Robinson), Klez-thetics, and a more recent group called Klez-Edge with vocalist Marek Balata. Klez-Edge has a recent recording Ancestors, Mindreles, NaGila Monsters (2008) out on John Zorn's Tzadik label. A duet with Perry Robinson, also on the Tzadik label, Two Voices in the Desert was released in January 2009.

Since the mid-1990s Greene has performed and recorded in New York and along the East Coast. Greene's recent performance and recorded groups based in New York include a duet with bassist Mark Dresser; a quartet with trumpeter Roy Campbell, Lou Grassi and Adam Lane; a trio with Ed and George Schuller on bass and drums (recorded on the CIMP label); and a quintet with the Schuller brothers, Russ Nolan on saxes and flute and Paul Smoker on trumpet. His autobiography written over 20 years, Memoirs of a Musical Pesty-Mystic, was published in 2001 (Cadence Jazz Books).


  • 1964: The Free Form Improvisation Ensemble
  • 1965: Burton Greene Quartet
  • 1969: Aquariana (BYG Actuel)
  • 1971: Mountains (Button Nose)
  • 1978: Structures: The N.B.G. Trio Live (Circle)
  • 1978: European Heritage (Circle)
  • 1979: Variations of a Coffee Machine (Kharma)
  • 1980: The Ongoing Strings (hat HUT) with Alan Silva
  • 1992: Klezmokum: Ancient & Newer Roots
  • 1994: Klezmokum: Jew-azzic Park
  • 1998: Klezmokum: Re-Jew-venation
  • 2004: Solo Piano: Live at Grasland
  • 2006: Burton Greene Trio: Ins and Outs
  • 2009: Two Voices in the Desert w/ Perry Robinson (Tzadik)
  • 2012: Live at Kerrytown House (NoBusiness)
  • 2012: Parallel Worlds w/ Alan Silva (Long Song)
  • 2014: A 39 Years Reunion Celebration (Studio 234)
  • 2015: Space Is Still the Place w/ Silke Röllig (Improvising Beings)
  • 2015: Free Form Improvisation Ensemble 2013 (Improvising Beings)


  1. ^ Kelsey, Chris. Biography of Burton Greene at AllMusic. Retrieved 2007-06-25.

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