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Owen McNally writes about jazz and other music events in Connecticut's Jazz Corridor, stretching from the tip of Fairfield County, right through New Haven and Hartford, and on up beyond the state into the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. Keep up with the best our area has to offer in music.

Jazz and Strings Presents Saxophonist Jimmy Greene in Moving Tribute to Beloved Daughter

"Music has a unique way of communicating and healing."
Jimmy Greene

With lush string accompaniment, saxophonist/composer Jimmy Greene later this month presents music from his acclaimed 2014 album, Beautiful Life, his deeply moving, eloquent homage to the life of his beloved daughter, Ana Grace Marquez-Greene.

She was murdered with 19 other children and six educators in the horrific mass shooting on December 14, 2012, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Greene will perform selections from his life-affirming tribute to Ana, a gifted singer and dance-loving first-grader, along with other original works and arrangements, accompanied by the chamber ensemble, Jazz and Strings, on Sunday, November 29, at 7:30 pm at Hartford's Infinity Hall at 32 Front Street.

In contrast with his recent a cappella solo performance at the Connecticut Composers Festival, Greene's rich inventions will be set in the full-bodied chamber textures of Jazz and Strings, a classically rooted, swing-ready unit tapped from the string section of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (HSO).

The string ensemble, which no longer presents its classic jazz and classical strings concerts under the aegis of the financially-stressed HSO, is directed by its founder and artistic director, percussionist and drummer Gene Bozzi.

The concert marks the string ensemble's debut appearance at Infinity Hall, the welcoming state-of-the-art venue in downtown Hartford.

Besides being principal timpanist for the HSO, Bozzi has performed with luminaries ranging from Emmanuel Ax to Dave Liebman, and is at home with anything from Bartok to bop, from swing to samba. Over recent years, Jazz and Strings has celebrated such canonized jazz-with-strings albums as Charlie Parker's groundbreaking recordings with strings and Stan Getz's famous string/swing fest, Focus, while featuring an impressive list of solo guest artists ranging from tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm to guitarist Mike Stern.

Using the power of music and the glory of creation to bring light to his darkest despair, Greene has reflected not only on his family's heart and soul-wrenching loss of his daughter, but also on the indelibly joyful way that Ana, an angelic child who loved to sing and make people happy, lived so vibrantly and lovingly in her few short years.

Credit JimmyGreene.com
Jimmy Greene with his daughter, Ana Grace Marquez-Greene.
A dreamy, idyllic photo -- a freeze-frame reverie of the Greenes' children of summer -- appears on the album cover.

As Greene, a devoted father and family man of deep abiding faith, explained when Beautiful Life was first released by Mack Avenue Records: "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 (including his wife, Nelba Marquez-Greene, and their young son, Isaiah) and I have endured at a time when words fail."

Among the album's many profoundly personal notes is Greene's evocative composition, "Last Summer," a piece inspired by his reflections on a precious family photograph of Ana and Isaiah, their backs turned to the camera, gazing off into a distant, idyllic vista with their arms wrapped lovingly round each other's shoulders.

The memory-laden image forever captures a priceless, fleeting moment shared in the family's backyard on an ideal summer day when the Greenes were living in Winnipeg, Canada, prior to their move to Newtown. 

Greene was born in Hartford and raised in Bloomfield. He taught in Canada at the University of Manitoba between 2009 and 2012, before the family relocated to its home in Connecticut. He began a new job as assistant professor of music and coordinator of jazz studies at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.

That dreamy, idyllic photo -- a freeze-frame reverie of the Greenes' children of summer -- appears on the cover of Beautiful Life.

Credit jimmygreene.com

It's a visual reminder that Greene, through his triumphant musical artistry, has created a personal yet universal work honoring his daughter, Ana, an elegant elegy whose themes of life, love, joy, sadness and mortality we can all connect with and feel on the deepest level of our mutually-shared sense of human experience. Tickets: $29.00/$44.00. Information: (866) 666-6306.

Musical Magi Bearers of Light

Credit facebook.com/DaniloPerezMusic
Brian Blade, Danilo Perez, and John Patitucci.

Infinitely more than merely brilliant apostles of Wayne Shorter, the Jazz Prometheus, and his cosmically liberating views on the many open-ended paths to creativity, pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade are a triumphant trinity in their own right on their first release as a trio with their new, luminous album, Children of the Light.

Now on the road, the three master musicians and magi-like bearers of light, who have served as three-fourths of the transcendent Wayne Shorter Quartet for more than a decade, bring their tight-knit, radiant sounding chamber jazz trio to Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts on Thursday, November 19, at 8:00 pm.

Children of the Light, a Mack Avenue Records release, comprises 11 tracks which feature original compositions by all three members, plus a new take on an old Shorter classic, "Dolores."

The three master musicians bring their tight-knit, radiant sounding chamber jazz trio to Fairfield November 19.

With children and light as leitmotifs, the music is graced with beauty, translucent melodies and pure feeling aglow with imaginative cinematic narratives inventively playful, witty and mysterious. It's like an Old Master portrait painting evoking delicious ambiguities with its magical use of light, shadow and substance.

All this transformative use of light, clarity and pristine simplicity -- exemplified in such titles as "Milky Way," "Lumen," "Looking for Light" and "Light Echo" -- is generated by the intimate, fluent, nuanced, interactive conversational style that these equal partners have honed to a razor's edge in their long, creatively catalytic collaboration.

Even before these three stars had become aligned in the orbiting world of the Shorter Quartet, they had collaborated in recording sessions for Perez's release, Motherland, in 2000.

Perhaps Motherland marked the conception of the miraculous transformation that has given these three musicians a DNA-like bond, a super-simpatico sense and sensibility when it comes to painting with the elements of melody, harmony and rhythm, morphing color, shape and line into something new under the sun.

Tickets: $40/$35/$30 and $5 Fairfield students. Box office: (203) 254-4010.

Please submit press releases on upcoming jazz events at least two weeks before the publication date toomac28@gmail.com. Comments left below are most welcome.

Owen McNally writes the weekly Jazz Corridor column for WNPR.org as well as periodic freelance pieces for The Hartford Courant and other publications.

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