Jul 30, 2014
10:46 AM
Arts & Entertainment

Jazz Helps Heal Jimmy Greene, Whose Daughter Was Killed at Sandy Hook; Saxophonist at Litchfield Festival Aug. 10

Jazz Helps Heal Jimmy Greene, Whose Daughter Was Killed at Sandy Hook; Saxophonist at Litchfield Festival Aug. 10

Steven Sussman

Jimmy Greene.

Jimmy Greene says that when words fail us music is there.

“Music is a way to communicate when there's nothing that words can further communicate,” says Greene, an acclaimed jazz saxophonist from Newtown whose band, the Jimmy Greene Quartet, will be one of the headliners at the 19th annual Litchfield Jazz Festival, taking place Aug. 8 to 10 at the Goshen Fairgrounds in Goshen.

When Greene performs on Sunday, Aug. 10, he will express emotions beyond words, playing many selections from his forthcoming album “Beautiful Life,” which is inspired by the life of his daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, who was 6 years old when she was killed, along with 19 other children and six educators, in the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.

(Greene performing, right, in photo by Gerhard Richeter.)

“It's very personal music and very emotional,” Greene says. (The musician talks about his daughter's death and the outporing of support afterward in a message on his website, which he ends with the thought "Love wins!". An excerpt from the message is below:)

Another question I've been asked often is, "How do you even get up in the morning?" To be honest, it's not because of my strength or resilience. I have very little strength on my own - but my God is strong, and I lean on Him. It's my hope in eternity, encapsulated in the New Testament scripture found in the book of John chapter 3 verse 16, that is my only source of peace and comfort during these painful days. Ana (left) is in heaven where I hope to be one day and I have nothing to fear.

This year's jazz festival will open Friday, Aug. 8, with a performance by jazz singer Cecile McLorin Salvant, a young Grammy-nominated jazz star and winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk international Jazz vocalist competition. Also on the opening night bill is the great gospel pianist Cyrus Chestnut.

Saturday’s lineup includes Grammy-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum and his Gospel According to Jazz band; British vocalist/pianist Anthony Strong, who some say is positioned to be the next Harry Connick Jr.; and Curtis Fuller, a 79-year-old jazz trombone legend who has performed with Art Blakey, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and countless others.

Sunday’s lineup includes a tribute to Django Reinhardt performed by the Litchfield Jazz Festival Orchestra, a performance by world-renowned guitarist Mike Stern’s Quartet, an appearance by a new all-female band from Cuba named Maqueque, with saxophonist Jane Bunnett, and Greene’s performance with his band.

Greene, a Connecticut native, has a long association with the Litchfield Jazz Festival. He taught at the festival’s first jazz camp in 1997 and has performed at the festival many times in the past.

“Jazz is very social music; it requires people getting together and musicians sharing with one another,” he says. “Having a festival like this so close to home that attracts world class musicians is a great thing.”

He adds that music continues to help him and his family deal with the tragedy of losing Ana.

“In the wake of our tragedy it’s wonderful to have something to focus on that is, by its very nature, expressive and healing,” he says. “As a musician I'm afforded the opportunity to participate in the creation of beauty every single day.”

To connect with the Litchfield Jazz Festival, and to purchase tickets, see its website. Also check out the Litchfield Jazz Camp, where faculty members are giving free concerts at camp headquarters at Canterbury School in New Milford. (Jazz festival photo by Nathan Turner.)

Also see our story about jazz festival vocalist Nicole Zuraitis' scary 'Bronx tale' with guns

Jazz Helps Heal Jimmy Greene, Whose Daughter Was Killed at Sandy Hook; Saxophonist at Litchfield Festival Aug. 10

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