Jazzman Jimmy Greene shares beauty of daughter's life, lost at Newtown

When Jimmy Greene and his quartet take the stage at Jazziz Thursday night, his sets may include “Ana Grace,” a song Greene wrote in 2008 about his then pre-school-age daughter.

The song awakens slowly, with piano and Greene’s tenor sax exchanging soulful introductions, then gains momentum midway through with Greene taking off on exuberant runs as piano and drums provide percussive bounce. You can almost see the Ana Grace her father describes: inquisitive, outgoing, joyful and musical.

“I tried to capture the essence of who she is … um, who she was,” Greene says.

On Dec. 14, 2012, Ana Grace, 6, was killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Greene has been performing “Ana Grace” on tour, but says he can’t predict how he’ll feel on Thursday at Jazziz.

“I’ll bring it to rehearsal, and if I feel like it’s going to work, then, yes, we’ll do it,” Greene says.

A portion of the proceeds from Thursday’s concerts will go to the Ana Grace Fund, which supports the Artists' Collective and Klingberg Family Centers, where Ana Grace’s mother, Nelba Márquez-Greene, is a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Greene is an acclaimed jazz performer and educator (he teaches at Western Connecticut State University) who has toured and recorded with Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard and Harry Connick Jr., in whose big band he was a featured soloist. Last year, Connick wrote a song in memory of Ana Grace titled “Love Wins.”

“[Connick’s] love, humanity and friendship have always been there,” Greene says. “He has shown his love and support in a lot of ways in the last year.”

Later this year, Greene will release an album dedicated to his daughter, with a new version of “Ana Grace” and more songs inspired by her life. While Greene says he’s “very lucky” to have music as an emotional outlet, writing these songs was not easy.

“It’s difficult to do just about everything now, you know?” he says. "Every day is a struggle, to say the least. I trust God and I rely on the strength that he gives me." 

The title of the new album is “Beautiful Life.”

“The album is quite a bit about my daughter and her life, and our family, but it also speaks to how precious every life is,” Greene says. “We very firmly believe there is so many more good and loving and kind and generous people in the world than there are that are evil and violent.”

IF YOU GO
Jimmy Greene will perform at 7 and 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at Jazziz Nightlife, 201 Plaza Real, in Boca Raton. Tickets cost $25, $35 and $45, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Ana Grace Fund. Call 561-300-0730, or go to Jazziz.com or JimmyGreene.com.

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