Available Now on Mack Avenue Records:
Saxophonist JIMMY GREENE Reflects on the
Life and Loss of his Daughter, Tragically Killed in
Sandy Hook Shooting, with Beautiful Life
Album Features Special Guests Including
Kenny Barron, Javier Colon, Kurt Elling,
and Pat Metheny, Among Others
"Music has a unique way of communicating and healing. I'm so thankful that music
is my profession - that I am able to write and arrange to create settings that convey the
emotions I experience, not the least of which is the pain that my family and I have
endured at a time when words fail." - Jimmy Greene
Jimmy Greene's new release, Beautiful Life on Mack Avenue Records, is a celebration of the life of his 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, whose life was tragically taken, along with 19 other children and 6 educators, on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
"I want the music to reflect the way that Ana lived," Greene says. He fulfills that mandate with an intense, cohesive, genre-spanning program-juxtaposing the hardcore instrumental jazz for which he is best known with traditional spirituals, contemporary Christian music, standard ballads and three original songs framing his own lyrics. Animating the repertoire is a gold-standard rhythm section (Renee Rosnes, piano; Christian McBride, bass; Lewis Nash, drums), augmented at various points by guitarists Pat Metheny and Jonathan DuBose, Jr.; pianists Kenny Barron and Cyrus Chestnut; vocalists Kurt Elling, Javier Colon and Latanya Farrell; spoken word from Tony® Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose; a 13-piece string ensemble from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra; as well as an accomplished children's choir.
Greene himself is one of the most respected saxophonists of his generation since graduating from Hartt School of Music in 1997. He composed or arranged every selection and plays tenor and soprano saxophones as well as flute with customary authority, melodic focus and abiding soulfulness.
Jimmy Greene and Ana Márquez-Greene
Photo Credit: K. Rifkind Photography
"In the days after my daughter was killed, playing and writing music wasn't even a thought," the 39-year-old saxophonist says. "I was very much in shock, grieving deeply and trying to just function coherently. Family and friends surrounded us and held us up, and we received 10,000 communications-emails, texts, Facebook messages, voice calls, letters-from people around the world. The community of musicians was front and center for that support. When I called, they responded, 'Whatever you need, just say the word, and I'll be there.'"
In late January 2013, Greene, feeling that "I needed to get back to some sense of routine," resumed a regimen of practice and composition. Soon thereafter, Norman Chesky, the co-owner of Chesky Records and HDtracks, reached out with an extraordinary offer.
"An intense amount of media attention was focused on my family and all of us in Newtown, so I was fairly guarded whenever communicating with someone for the first time," Greene relates. "But Norman offered to donate the production of a recording that I could do whenever I was ready, and to give me complete ownership. I was humbled and honored by his generosity, and began to devote my energies to the project."
Greene decided to weave lyrics and singers into the flow for the first time on one of his recordings. "Ana loved to sing and listen to singers, and had a wonderful singing voice," he explains. "So an album dedicated to her memory needed to have singers and songs that were important to her and me and my family."
"Many people have asked what they can do to help, and this is my answer," Greene says. "Let's remember what happened at Sandy Hook. We can each hold up our end of the bargain, which is to somehow learn to love ourselves, and then see past ourselves and love our neighbor. That's pretty simple, but if we all did it, I think our existence would be different."
A portion of the proceeds from Beautiful Life will be donated to the following charities in Ana's name:
- The Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers - initiated by Greene's wife Nelba, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, to promote love, community and connection for every child and family through partnerships with schools, mental health providers, community organizations and faith leaders.
- The Artists Collective - where generations of children and families in Greater Hartford have gained access to world-class training in the arts.
About Jimmy Greene:
A native of Hartford, CT, saxophonist, composer, and educator Jimmy Greene has emerged as a positive presence in the jazz world. His 9 solo recordings, released on various labels including RCA Victor, Sunnyside, and Criss Cross, have been met with much critical acclaim. In addition to his recordings and appearances as a leader, Greene appears on over 70 albums as a sideman, and has toured and/or recorded with Horace Silver, Tom Harrell, Freddie Hubbard, Harry Connick, Jr., Avishai Cohen, Kenny Barron, Lewis Nash, Steve Turre, the New Jazz Composers Octet and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, among many others.
Greene is Assistant Professor of Music and Co-Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, CT. Previously, he served as Assistant Professor of Jazz Saxophone at the University of Manitoba (2009-2012). Greene was selected to receive the 2013 Governor's Arts Award in Connecticut, as well as grants and honors as a composer from ASCAP/IAJE (2006), Chamber Music America (2004), the State of Connecticut (2004) and the City of Hartford (2009).
Upcoming Jimmy Greene Performances:
December 5 / Hagman Concert Hall, WCSU Performing Arts Center / Danbury, CT
December 11 - 13 / Jazz Standard / New York, NY
January 2 - 3 / Side Door Jazz Club / Old Lyme, CT
January 25 - February 1 / The Jazz Cruise / Various Locations
February 15 / Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival / Rockville, MD
March 1 / Skidmore College / Saratoga Springs, NY
April 13 / New Jersey City University (w/ NJCU Jazz Ensemble) / Jersey City, NJ
Jimmy Greene · Beautiful Life
Mack Avenue Records · Release Date: November 24, 2014
For more information on Jimmy Greene, please visit: JimmyGreene.com