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Photography by Jimmy Katz
Jimmy Greene’s debut recording for Mack Avenue, Beautiful Life, 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. The album garnered two Grammy® nominations: one for Best Jazz Instrumental Album and the other for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for Greene's arrangement of his composition "When I Come Home," featuring vocalist Javier Colon.
“I want to give a sense of how 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; pianists Kenny Barron and Cyrus Chestnut; vocalists Colon, Kurt Elling 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. He composed or arranged every selection and plays tenor and soprano saxophones and flute with customary authority, melodic focus and abiding soulfulness.
A native of Hartford, CT, Greene is considered one of the most respected saxophonists of his generation since his graduation from the Hartt School of Music in 1997. His previous solo releases, Live at Smalls (SmallsLive), Mission Statement (RazDaz/Sunnyside), The Overcomers Suite (NuJazz), Gifts and Givers (Criss Cross), True Life Stories (Criss Cross), Forever (Criss Cross), Brand New World (RCA Victor), Live at Birdland (RCA Victor) and Introducing Jimmy Greene (Criss Cross) have been met with much critical acclaim. In fact, Tony Hall of Jazzwise Magazine (UK) calls Greene “ . . .without doubt one of the most striking young tenors of recent years.”
The Jimmy Greene Quartet performs regularly in jazz venues, festivals and clubs worldwide, including the Village Vanguard (New York), Le Club (Moscow), Casa del Jazz (Rome), Sunside Jazz Club (Paris), Red Sea Jazz Festival (Israel), Lapataia Jazz Festival (Uruguay) and Amazonas Jazz Festival (Brazil). In one such appearance, Jim Macnie of the Village Voice said,"[Greene] is good for a couple of body chills every time you see him. He's got a big barrelhouse sound, and a way of negotiating changes that make academic moves seem natural."
In addition to his recordings and appearances as a leader, Greene appears on 75 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. As a member of Harrell's quintet, Greene was featured on CBS's benchmark news magazine, 60 Minutes. As a member of Harry Connick Jr.'s Big Band, Greene is a featured soloist on 2 DVD releases, Harry for the Holidays, and Only You. He was featured as a soloist on Connick's 2003 holiday special aired on NBC, in addition to NBC's Today Show, and BBC's Parkinson Show.
[Down Beat magazine] recognized Greene as one of "25 Young Rising Stars in Jazz."
As a composer, Greene was awarded the prestigious 2005 ASCAP / IAJE Commission in honor of Ornette Coleman, the 2013 State of Connecticut Governor's Arts Award in Music the City of Hartford's Innovator Award in Music. Greene was named a 2004 Winner of Chamber Music America's New Works: Creation and Presentation grant for jazz composition, awarded a 2005 Artist Fellowship in Music Composition by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, and awarded a 2009 Individual Artist Grant by the Greater Hartford Arts Council. Forty of Greene's original compositions and arrangements have been recorded on the RCA Victor, SmallsLive, Criss Cross, NuJazz and RazDaz / Sunnyside labels. In addition, Greene's performance of his composition "Mr. McLean" was aired throughout the US and Canada on ABC-TV during a NASCAR pre-race broadcast in September 2007.
Greene is Coordinator of Jazz Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, CT.
Greene is Assistant Professor of Music and Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, CT. Previously, he has served as Assistant Professor of Jazz Saxophone at the University of Manitoba, Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Purchase College (State University of New York), as Lecturer at the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School (University of Hartford) and as an Instructor at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. Greene has given clinics and masterclasses throughout the United States, Canada, Brazil, Israel and Russia. Two of his former students have been named semi-finalists in the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition and 18 student musicians and small ensembles under Greene's direction have won DownBeat Magazine Student Music Awards.
Jimmy was named First Runner-Up in the 1996 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, and was named one of the"25 Young Rising Stars in Jazz" by DownBeat Magazine in 1999. Greene graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.Mus in Jazz Studies from the Hartt School and holds a M.Mus in Music Education from Boston University. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Jazz Arts at the Manhattan School of Music. His mentors have included Jackie McLean, Jim McNeely, Justin DiCioccio, David Liebman, Phil Markowitz, Garry Dial, Dave Santoro, Kris Jensen, Steve Davis, Ken Radnofsky and Janet Arms.
Jimmy Greene is a clinician for Borgani Saxophones and Vandoren Mouthpieces, Reeds and Ligatures and uses their products exclusively.