Mar 3, 2015
"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
I first met Jimmy Greene when he was a budding young talent at the Hartt School of Music in the mid-Nineties. A protégé of the legendary Jackie McLean at Hartford’s Artist Collective, Greene played with strength and a passion that belied his years. Since then, 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.
Jimmy met his greatest challenge on December 14, 2012 when his 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, was tragically killed, along with 19 other children and 6 educators, on at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In the months that followed, he struggled to make sense of the loss, and find a way to use his art as a means of grieving, and then celebrating the life of his daughter.
Beautiful Life, on Mack Avenue Records, is the triumphant result of that struggle. Going places musically he had not gone before, Greene took up a number of his former friends, mentors and admirers on their offers of musical support to create an album that is far more celebratory of life than elegiac in nature. Greene juxtaposes 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; and most touchingly, an accomplished children's choir. Jimmy composed or arranged every selection and plays tenor and soprano saxophones as well as flute with customary authority, melodic focus and abiding soulfulness.
Podcast 468 is my conversation with Jimmy, augmented by tracks from Beautiful Life, including “Saludos/Come Thy Mighty King” (which features a vocal from Ana); “Where is Love” and “Ana’s Way”.