NEW HAVEN — Jazz musician and Western Connecticut State University professor Jimmy Greene will receive the Governor’s Arts Award at a presentation ceremony and concert at 6:30 pm on Saturday, June 15, during the International Festival for Arts and Ideas in New Haven.
Mr Greene, an internationally acclaimed saxophonist, composer and bandleader who lives in Sandy Hook, will join writer and Yale University professor Elizabeth Alexander and artist and University of Connecticut professor Olu Oguibe as the 2013 recipients of the Governor’s Arts Awards. An assistant professor of music and assistant coordinator of jazz studies at WCSU, Mr Greene also will lead a performance by The Jimmy Greene Quintet — featuring Kenny Barron on piano, Lewis Nash on drums and John Patitucci on bass. Soul and rhythm-and-blues singer Aaron Neville, renowned for his unique vocal stylings inspired by his New Orleans musical heritage, will perform a program of classic doo wop pieces in the headline act of the concert.
The awards program and concert will be held on the Elm Street Stage at the New Haven Green. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.
The Governor’s Arts Awards recognize outstanding service to the arts in Connecticut. Founded 35 years ago, the program has honored more than 140 recipients including professionals in the performing and visual arts, educators, businesses and arts organizations.
Prior to the awards ceremony and evening concert, Mr Greene and the other 2013 recipients of the award — Elizabeth Alexander of Hamden and Olu Oguibe of Rockville — will discuss their work and commitment to artistic development in Connecticut as participants in a panel discussion at 3 pm Saturday afternoon at Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel Street in New Haven (two blocks from New Haven Green, where
A poet, essayist and playwright, Ms Alexander is chair of the African American Studies Department at Yale University.
Mr Oguibe, and artist and academic, is a professor of art and art history and associate Director df the Institute of African American Studies at the University of Connecticut.
“I am supremely honored to receive the Governor’s Arts Award for 2013, and grateful to Governor Malloy and the Connecticut Office of the Arts for bestowing this prestigious honor upon me,” said Mr Greene. “Reviewing the list of past recipients is quite humbling, indeed. I am blessed to have learned at the feet of such giants of the arts in Connecticut and to have lived most of my life here. There is a vibrant, inspirational community of musicians and artists here in Connecticut, and I am proud to be a small part of it.”
Mr Greene is a Hartford area native who attended Bloomfield High School, the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and the Artists Collective. He graduated summa cum laude with a music degree from the Hartt School of the University of Hartford. Since his debut in 1997 on the New York jazz scene, he has gained a reputation as a prolific recording artist, leading sideman, widely traveled concert performer and innovative composer of jazz scores.
Named in 1999 as one of Down Beat magazine’s “25 Young Rising Stars in Jazz,” he has released a series of critically acclaimed albums and received numerous honors including the commission to compose and perform “Anthem of Hope” in honor of jazz legend Ornette Coleman.
He was appointedv in August 2012 as assistant professor of music and assistant coordinator of jazz studies at WestConn. In April, Mr Greene brought together an array of leading jazz artists to participate in the opening 2013 WCSU Jazz Fest concert, “Friends of Jimmy Greene,” dedicated to the victims of 12/14. Mr Greene and his wife, Nelba Marquez-Greene, lost their 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace in the tragedy.
“In his first year here at Western, and despite the tremendous difficulties he has had to endure, Jimmy Greene has proven to be an invaluable member of our department and an outstanding role model to our students,” remarked Jamie Begian, chair of the WCSU Department of Music and director of the jazz studies program. “I was very happy to hear that Jimmy was chosen as a recipient of this award.”
Earlier this week, jazz musician Harry Connick Jr released his newest album. The same day, “Love Wins,” a song written for the Greene family was released exclusively on iTunes. The musician announced the upcoming release of the special song through his Facebook page on Saturday, June 8.
“Jimmy Greene, my longtime friend and band member, lost his precious daughter, Ana Grace, in the Newtown shooting. She was six years old. Jimmy, his incredible wife, Nelba, and beautiful young son, Isaiah, are devastated beyond description,” Connick wrote in part.
The song, said Connick, was recorded with “an all star cast, featuring Kim Burrell, Doobie Powell, Nikki Ross, Jonathan Dubose, Jr, and, of course, Jimmy Greene on tenor saxophone.”
The song is available for download on iTunes, for $1.29. All of the proceeds, Connick wrote, will go to The Ana Grace Fund to help the Greene family “get through this difficult time. … Ana grace used to say “Love wins” — and you know what? it always does!”