Happy Birthday Pete Christlieb

February 16, 1945

A birthday tribute to the swinging tenor-saxophonist

Tenor-saxophonist Pete Christlieb was born on Feb. 16, 1945 in Los Angeles, California; his father was bassoonist Donald Christlieb who played on over 750 soundtracks at 20th Century Fox.

Pete Christlieb, who took lessons from Bob Cooper and Jimmy Rowles, worked after high school with Si Zentner (with whom he made his recording debut in 1965), Woody Herman, Louie Bellson, Sonny Criss and Chet Baker among many others.

Christlieb became a busy studio musician, was a member of the Tonight Show band during the Johnny Carson period for 20 years, and played regularly at Los Angeles area clubs.

Along the way the tenor, who always had a big sound and a hard-swinging style, recorded with such notables as Jimmy Witherspoon, Bob Cooper, Warne Marsh, Freddie Hubbard, Natalie Cole (the Unforgettable album), Bill Holman, Jack Sheldon, Bob Florence, Joe Williams, Conte Candoli, Lou Levy, Louie Bellson, Terry Gibbs, Carl Saunders, and Steely Dan (“Deacon’s Blues”).

Pete Christlieb has led 13 albums of his own and since 2010 has often co-led a medium-sized group (Tall And Small) with his wife trombonist Linda Small.

Long a fixture in Los Angeles, in recent years Pete Christlieb moved to Washington State.

Pete Christlieb is featured in 2014 playing “Limehouse Blues” with pianist Lori Mechem, guitarist Andy Reiss, bassist Roger Spencer, and drummer Chris Brown.

-Scott Yanow


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