Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


The Celestial Saxophone
of Jimmy Greene

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We’re about to have a visitation from as close to a celestial being as the jazz community has yet been able to produce. I’m talking about Jimmy Greene. He is a tall, broad, gentle, corn-fed giant. Peace and love just pours out of his eyes—he’s a really warm spirit. And he plays a mean tenor saxophone!

He’s definitely one of the new young lions—when he was still in his mid-20s, DownBeat named him one of the “25 Young Rising Stars in Jazz.” He has a warm, cutting tenor saxophone tone, the kind of sound that was made for a ballad—with the kind of chops you need for the most difficult bebop passages.

Jimmy Greene has a pedigree: he is one of the disciples of Jackie McLean—which means he is well-versed in bebop, hard bop, and avant-garde. Greene began to study with McLean when he was still in high school, and continued through an undergraduate degree at Hartford. That training gave him a solid grounding in the tradition and great chops as a soloist, so he was ready to take New York by storm when he got there in the mid 1990s.

He did that, too. He’s played in all the big places with all the best people, and he’s got seven recordings (and a bunch of excellent reviews) to his credit now. A whole lot of heavy hitters—players like Freddie Hubbard, Steve Turre, Lewis Nash, Avishai Cohen, Claudia Acuña, Kenny Barron—swear by him because of his big, warm sound and his infectious sense of swing.

We’re more than a little thrilled that Jimmy Greene is coming to the University of Manitoba as our first Artist-in Residence. He’ll be here two weeks per semester, with the first visit in October. We have him lined up to teach saxophone, big band, composition, theory, history—and he’ll do a couple of burning performances too. The students are in for an incredible treat. Some of the things he’ll do will be open to the public as well, so be on the look-out!

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