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Jimmy Greene Remembers A 'Beautiful Life'

Jimmy Greene.
Jimmy Katz
Courtesy of the artist
Jimmy Greene.

Unfathomable. Unimaginable. These are among the words used to describe the recent mass shooting in a rural Texas church, which left more than two dozen parishioners dead, eight of them children. For many of us, the inhuman horror of this act literally defies comprehension. The dimensions of the tragedy are all too familiar for Jimmy Greene.

A saxophonist both respected and beloved in the jazz community, Greene lost his 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The shock and pain left his family dumbstruck. But Greene eventually decided to begin making music again, this time in honor of his daughter: Beautiful Life, released in 2014, paid tribute to the spirit and love that Ana exuded, and the joy that she spread.

Jazz Night in America caught up with Greene in 2015, speaking with his family about Ana and her legacy. This episode features those conversations, as well as an uplifting performance by Greene's quartet at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, drawing from Beautiful Life.

Greene has since released a follow-up album, Flowers, once again dedicated to Ana's memory. Together with his wife, Nelba Márquez-Greene, he has carried on her legacy through the Ana Grace Project, a nonprofit community arts organization. They have been outspoken in the campaign for gun control, an ongoing and uphill struggle.

"Love Wins" is the slogan that helped carry the Greene family through their darkest hours. That message carries through the music, and it's an abiding theme in this episode of Jazz Night in America.

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