On a day that had everyone from the president on down wiping away tears and parents hugging their kids extra long and hard, we’re reminded that great tragedies often collide with great beauty. The beauty of twenty children, whose lives were full of hope and promise of a rich, bountiful life that was ahead of them, suddenly snuffed out by the sinister impulse of a lone gunman whose motivation for committing this massacre we’ll never come close to comprehending.
America feels for the family and friends of these innocent little victims even though nearly all of us didn’t know them. But wherever there is a connection of any kind to them, the tragedy hurts even more. The sting of this senseless act got a little more acute for me when it was revealed by JazzTimes that one of the young victims was the daughter of jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene. In 2009, I had the pleasure of receiving and reviewing his new CD of the time, Mission Statement. In explaining why he chose that title, Greene writes in the CD sleeve, “this album represents my story, as it can be told today. The music is, if nothing else, extremely personal. It deals with the most precious things in my life: love faith, family, relationships, childhood and dreams.” Those and other remarks he made in the album notes impressed me as a deeply religious man who possesses a healthy spirit and an abundantly prescient outlook on life.
The second last track on Mission Statement is a composition Greene named “Ana Grace.” In the review, I wrote that for this song, “(Xavier) Davis supplements his piano with a Rhodes, after an extended, passionate soprano solo by Greene. The song retains its acoustic, straight-ahead flavor, however, and Davis’s perfunctory but fluid solo is on the piano.” I would also add that “Ana Grace” has a rather pretty, soulful melody, with depth and controlled passion.
Incidentally, the name of Jimmy Greene’s daughter killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting is Ana.
Mr. Greene, know that the hurt and shock you are experiencing at the moment is shared by a whole nation. You are in the thoughts and prayers of many, and the spiritual beauty you fathered both in song and human life will linger on to a ripe old ripe old age. No random lunatic can ever take that away.