Born: 1975 in Bloomfield, CT
Styles: Neo-Bop, Post-Bop
Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene was born in Bloomfield, Connecticut in 1975. His father, James Greene, St. who was an amateur saxophonist and songwriter, got his son making music at an early age, buying him his first alto saxophone at age 6. Two years later he began taking lessons and by junior high, the younger Greene had become obsessed with jazz music. When he was 15, his teacher brought him to the nearby larger town of Hartford to meet Jackie McLean, the legendary saxophonist, who at the time was both directing the jazz program at Hartt College of Music and running a community school called the Artists' Collective. Impressed with McLean, he studied with him throughout high school and took to the discipline and rigor of working with a professional musician right away. McLean has said that Greene was a natural prodigy, taking a week to learn material that should have taken a month to learn. Greene also benefited from the association with the Artists' Collective and McLean when he went to record his debut album, Brave New World, which featured several artists from McLean's ensembles, including trombonist Steve Davis and drummer Eric McPherson.
Greene enrolled at Hartt immediately after graduating from high school and was a runner-up in the Thelonius Monk Competition one year before graduating in 1997. Soon after graduation, he relocated to New York City, where he played in Avishai Cohen's sextet and with famous jazz artists like Jason Lindner and Omer Avital in sessions at the all-night Greenwich Village club, Smalls. His performances were critically acclaimed - Ben Ratliff of the New York Times wrote of a December, 1997 performance by Greene, "[Greene is] in command of harmony, and can sound very organized racing through fast tempos, but he also relaxed into ballad standards and let an intriguing personality shine through." By 1998, Greene had his first recordings - on a RCA Victor compilation called Live at Birdland, which was released in early 1999. RCA also issued his debut full-length in 2000, Brand New World, which featured Davis and McPherson along with pianist Aaron Goldberg, trumpeter Darron Barrett, bassist Dwayne Burno and percussionist Kahil Bell. The album has six standards, one rearranged standard and two original works, showing off Greene's interpretive abilities. The sound is classic but not dull, and gives hope that the very young Greene will grow up to produce truly original music.
-Stacia Proefrock (All Music Guide)