Levi Gillis is a Seattle based saxophonist and improviser, and a graduate of UW Jazz Studies program. Since moving to Seattle in 2009, Levi has studied and performed with Dave Douglas, Cuong Vu, Ted Poor, Eric Revis, Ralph Alessi, Tim Berne and Wayne Horvitz among others. An active member in the Seattle improvised music community, Levi leads the avant-jazz/post-rock band Hunter Gather and the chamber jazz group Sequoia Ensemble and co-leads the collective melodic free jazz band The Sky is a Suitcase.
Levi Gillis performs as a sideman in varioius other creative ensembles including Wayne Horvitz's Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble, Alex Pinto's Lift Kit, Ivan Arteaga's Neijing Ensemble, and is a member of the up-and-coming Seattle soul outfit, The Dip. As a freelance saxophonist and leader, Levi has performed in a variety of styles, from jazz to electro-pop to avant-garde to soul, in many festivals and venues such as Sasquatch Music Festival, the Improvised Music Project Festival, the Earshot Jazz Festival and MusicFest NW.
FOR HUNTER GATHER:
"Gillis and his band Hunter Gather summon soulful, ear-worming melodies, made richer and more dynamic as each individual player shares with the rest of the group."
-Alexa Peters, City Arts Magazine
"The second song, 'Sing' showed what Hunter Gather was capable of, filling the room with atmospheric sound. The impressive set certainly left the crowd wanting more."
-Harry Varley, Discorder Magazine
FOR THE SKY IS A SUITCASE:
"In their self-titled release, The Sky Is A Suitcase showcases a style that brings back rebellion to jazz - it surprises, excites, and inspires... These songs are personal, and there is a palpable sense of reflection coming from each member in every arrangement on the album. Each track mimics a story, fading in and out of emotions, and there is an intense solidarity within these players. Once you've entered this aural dream state, you'll never want to leave."
FOR SEQUOIA ENSEMBLE:
2014 NW ACOUSTIC JAZZ ENSEMBLE OF THE YEAR
-Earshot Jazz "Golden Ear Awards"
"There’s very little conventional structure to this music. There’s no relying on a return to a previously traveled spot and the shape of a song may not become apparent even after it’s reached its conclusion. The obligation of an ensemble who takes this approach is to make every moment interesting, which Sequoia Ensemble does with a remarkable consistency...Plenty of intrigue and amazement to be found here, an equation that results in an abundance of fun."
-Dave Sumner (Bird is the Worm, eMusic, Wondering Sound)
"The writing is ambitious and the lines between improvisation and composition are delectably blurred... It’s a testament to Gillis that the disparate directions on Sequoia do indeed hold together as an album, albeit a challengingly varied one, thanks to the assured arrangements and the sensitive and dynamic ensemble work. Highly recommended."