Mission Statement | Cat no: RD 4608 | Release Date: 7th April 2009
JIMMY GREENE MAKES A MISSION STATEMENT ON NEW RAZDAZ CD
Saxophonist’s 7th CD as a Leader To Be Released on April 7
Critically acclaimed tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene will release a new CD, Mission Statement, on April 7 on Razdaz Recordz, home to such eclectic artists as Sam Barsh and Amos Hoffman. Razdaz founder, bassist Avishai Cohen, in whose band Greene played during the nineties, says, ‘Jimmy is one of the most exciting and innovative musicians in the scene today. He continues the legacy of such greats as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. I’m a fan.’
Mission Statement features Greene’s working band of Xavier Davis (keyboards), Reuben Rogers (bass) and Eric Harland (drums) ‘ a stellar quartet who have performed together since 2002, and who first recorded with Greene on his 2006 Criss Cross release, True Life Stories. Guitarist Lage Lund is featured throughout, and vibraphonist Stefon Harris guests on one track, the spirited ‘Revelation’. ‘Playing with Stefon is a joy. His creative energy, attention to detail, and soulfulness are inspirational, to say the least. He sounds great in any context’
Greene’s talents as a composer have been acknowledged by Chamber Music America’s New Works: Creation and Presentation Grant Program (which commissioned Greene’s Overcomers suite), by his winning the prestigious ASCAP / IAJE Commission in honor of Ornette Coleman (resulting in the piece, Anthem of Hope,) and his being awarded a 2005 Artist Fellowship in Music Composition by the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. Those talents are strongly displayed on Mission Statement, which includes nine original compositions, as well as Greene’s arrangement of Harry Smith’s inspirational ‘Give Thanks.’
An intensely personal undertaking, Mission Statement musically conveys a sense of who Jimmy Greene is as a man and as an artist. ‘It deals with the most precious things in my life: love, faith, family, relationships, childhood and dreams,’ explains Greene in his liner notes. ‘Although much is happening musically in many of these tunes, in them, the melodies, themes and improvisational flow seem to express, in a simple way, the joys, the struggles, curiosities and discoveries personal to my life so far.’
Greene has several shows scheduled to support the release of Mission Statement, including the following:
March 16, 2009 Winnipeg, MB (Canada) The Orbit Room
March 27, 2009 New Haven, CT Firehouse 12
April 2-4, 2009 New York, NY Smoke (Official CD release shows)
April 18, 2009 Hartford, CT The Studio @ Billings Forge
May 15-16, 2009 New York, NY Small’s
His website, www.jimmygreene.com, includes information on these shows, as well as clinics and Greene’s performances supporting other artists.
A Connecticut native, the 34 year old Greene has been playing sax since he was six years old. While still in his teens, he was fortunate to meet and subsequently study with the legendary Jackie McLean at the famed altoist’s community arts school, The Artists’ Collective. Awards and accolades began to pile up for the musically precocious teen, continuing as he pursued further studies at the University of Hartford/Hartt School.
Upon graduation, Greene moved to New York City, and soon became a member of the Horace Silver Quintet. In addition to the legendary pianist’s group, Greene has performed regularly with the groups of Tom Harrell, Freddie Hubbard, Steve Turre, Lewis Nash, Avishai Cohen, Claudia Acu’a, Kenny Barron, and Ralph Peterson, as well as the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, New Jazz Composers’ Octet, and the big bands of Harry Connick, Jr., Jason Lindner and Kendrick Oliver.
As a leader, he has consistently earned critical acclaim for his live shows and six previous recordings. He was honored in the June 1999 issue of Down Beat magazine, which, looking toward the future of jazz into the 21st century, recognized Greene as one of ’25 Young Rising Stars in Jazz.’
Maintaining a firm commitment to jazz education, Greene holds faculty positions at both the Hartt School and Purchase College, SUNY.
Jimmy Greene – saxophones
Lage Lund – guitar
Stefon Harris – vibraphone on ‘Revelation’
Xavier Davis – piano, Rhodes
Reuben Rogers – bass
Eric Harland – drums
All songs written and arranged by Jimmy Greene, except track 10 (composed by Harry Smith, arranged by Jimmy Greene), and published by Sidney James Music / BMI except track 10 (published by Integrity’s Hosanna! Music)
Produced by Jimmy Greene
Executive Producers: Avishai Cohen and Ray Jefford
Recorded mixed and mastered by Mike Marciano at Systems Two Recording Studios, Brooklyn, NY
Photography: Daniel Kedem
Artwork design: Toby Larnder
Released by Razdaz Recordz / Sunnyside Records in 2009.
All About Jazz (www.allaboutjazz.com)
Jimmy Greene | Razdaz Recordz (2009)
By Elliott Simon
Possessing a concise pithy tone on his tenor sax that at times can be reverential, Jimmy Greene also surprises with an ability to translate that same depth to soprano, when making the switch for the odd tune. Greene’s quartet consists of pianist Xavier Davis, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland, and, while this ensemble fits squarely in the world of precise modern jazz, the tunes—due in equal measure to Greene’s respect for melody and compositional skill—stand on their own as interesting listens.
This is not a shy rhythm section, and proves itself capable of laying in a very richly textured and supportive bottom and middle. It’s joined on a majority of the album by guitarist Lage Lund, who possesses a tone as delicately beautiful as Greene’s is juicy. This makes for some very fine moments, as Lund’s web-like runs contrast with Greene’s depth in a variety of stylistic settings, which occasionally benefit from Davis’ funky fare on Rhodes. The opening title cut begins with Greene strongly stating an intricate theme, followed by Lund’s soothing restatement that enchants and surprises with its cool mature feel.
Although the songs obviously differ in content— the funkiness of “Yeah You Right”; the spirituality and Trane-signifiers of “Love in Action”; the rhythmic complexity of “Mr. Octopus” and tenderness of “In Nelba’s Eyes” and “Ana Grace”—it is the interplay that makes this a must-listen. Vibraphonist Stefon Harri also joins for a particularly strong performance of “Revelation” that artfully showcases his speed and improvising ability, alongside Greene’s similar attributes on soprano. Mission Statement is a clear declaration that there is a whole lot of music in the horn and mind of Jimmy Greene.
Track listing: Mission Statement; Fathers and Sons; Trials; Love In Action; Revelation; In Nelba’s Eyes; YeahYouRight!; Mr. Octopus; Ana Grace; Give Thanks.
Personnel: Jimmy Greene: tenor and soprano saxophones; Lage Lund: guitar; Stefon Harris: vibraphone (Revelation); Xavier Davis: piano, Rhodes; Reuben Rogers: bass; Eric Harland: drums.
Jimmy Greene’s ‘Mission Statement’
About.com Rating 3.5/5
By Jacob Teichroew,
Saxophonist Jimmy Greene’s latest release, Mission Statement (Sunnyside/Razdaz), is a diverse and colorful survey of modern jazz saxophone. The songs vary in style, at times drawing from funk, free improvisation, and cerebral odd-meter trends, but they are unified by Greene’s robust and sincere tone.
Featuring guitarist Lage Lund, drummer Eric Harland, pianist Xavier Davis, and bassist Reuben Rogers, Mission Statement is characterized by an uncluttered sobriety. The compositions, almost all of which are originals (except for ‘Give Thanks,’ by Harry Smith), tend to lean into introspective territory.
What else can we expect from recording that is devoted to capturing various personal elements of Greene’s life, including (according to the liner notes) ‘love, faith, family, relationships, childhood and dreams?’ The music avoids feeling distant thanks to the outpouring nature of Greene’s solos. Even Lund, whose precision can be mistaken for coldness, sounds as if he needs to get something off his chest.
The opening track, ‘Mission Statement,’ with its angular guitar and saxophone unison melodies, and an obsessive chord pulsing repeatedly in the piano, smacks of jazz modernity ‘ la Mark Turner and Kurt Rosenwinkel. It sets the tone accurately for the rest of the album, building intensely, but never going overboard.
‘Fathers and Sons’ is wistful and rainy at first. Lund’s solo is melancholic, although bristling with a mysterious quality that constantly sounds on the verge of eruption. When Greene takes over, the tone shifts to an effusive plea. His solo’s verbal quality is a result of his stringing together of ideas, spinning overarching phrases out of melodic threads.
‘Mr. Octopus’ begins as creepily as the title implies. A rumbling solo saxophone melody is quickly taken over by an ominous response in the rhythm section, bringing to mind a cartoon-like chase. Greene’s solo, which strays from harmonic boundaries, and reminiscent of mad babbling, is punctuated by sharp bursts in the piano. Harland flutters about the drums, creating an aura of disarray and dishevelment.
The music on Mission Statement is simple yet filled with subtlety, making it worthy of repeated listening.
April 7th, 2009 on Sunnyside/Razdaz Records
* Jimmy Greene – saxophone
* Lage Lund – guitar
* Xavier Davis – piano, Fender Rhodes
* Reuben Rogers – bass
* Eric Harland – drums
* Stefon Harris – vibraphone
1. Mission Statement
2. Fathers And Sons
4. Love In Action
6. In Nelba’s Eyes
7. Yeah You Right!
8. Mr. Octopus
9. Ana Grace
10. Give Thanks
Jimmy Greene, ‘Mission Statement’
Monday, June 15, 2009 – 07:48 AM
Reviews By: Edward Blanco
Veteran reed man Jimmy Greene gives us his seventh album as leader completing a musical ‘Mission Statement’ that captures in a musical format, a very personal journey which he states
conveys a ‘in a simple way, the joys, struggles, curiosities and discoveries personal to my life thus far.’ He does this with a striking session of music that’s all modern/mainstream jazz containing intricate changes and improvisations that is no easy listen. This is jazz music the educated and sophisticated aficionado will appreciate most. Winner of the 2005 Artist Fellowship in Music Composition, Greene is quite adept at writing interesting material and is so strongly displayed on this recording.
A former member of the Horace Silver Quintet where his talents on the reeds distinguished the musician, Greene performs here on both tenor and soprano leading a stellar quartet which have been together since 2002. This working band includes Xavier Davis on keyboards, Reuben Rogers on bass and Earl Harland on drums’augmented for this album by guitarist Lage Lund and vibraphonist Stefon Harris who makes a guest appearance on the ‘Revelation’ piece.
Except for the Harry Smith tune ‘Give Thanks,’ arranged by Greene and on which he wields the soprano providing an especially pleasing performance, the remainder of the ten track repertoire are all Greene originals. Kicking off the program is the title track,which just happens to be one of the best compositions offered here where Greene unfurls the tenor in commanding fashion laying down some torrid lines. He is far more subdued on the melancholy ‘Fathers and Sons,’ as guitarist Lund weighs in with warm riffs as the saxophonist withdraws from the limelight.
Greene proceeds to deliver an expansive tenor solo reaching, weaving and dancing to a bit of improvisation on the twisting ‘Trials’ with pianist Davis providing supporting lines. Toning it down a bit on the warm ‘Love In Action,’ the reed man plays a more down tempo tone as bassist Rodriguez supplies tender bass work. ‘In Nelba’s Eyes’ is a heartfelt composition that comes across with a gentle melody featuring a cushy and supple performance by the group in one very nice charmer of a number.
The saxophonist picks up the beat on the scrappy brisk ‘Mr . Octopus’ characterized by a dose of free style improvisation that may not appeal to the average audience. Taking to the soprano on one of the last pieces, ‘Ana Grace,’ the music slows down in an almost ballad-like fashion inhabiting a gentle melody that displays the softer side of Greene’s playing. Though ‘Mission Statement’ offers new and lesser known terrain, the musicianship is solid and will not disappoint those who choose to sample the disc. Jimmy Greene is superb on the saxes and demonstrates why he is an award-winning composer challenging the listener with intelligent and creative charts that not many can interpret as well as he.
Right off the bat, the opening moments of the title track on Jimmy Greene’s new CD signal that the road ahead will be a good one with the very fine unison work of Green’s tenor sax and Lage Lund’s guitar. This song is one of nine Greene originals here, along with Harry Smith’s ‘Give Thanks.’
Greene has been around for some time, with some discs on the highly respected Dutch Criss Cross label before moving over to bassist Avishai Cohen’s Razdaz
Records. His band is first class, with Xavier Davis on acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, Reuben Rogers on bass, drummer Eric Harland and guitarist Lund. Stefon Harris joins in for one song, ‘Revelation,’ on vibes. Greene certainly sounds like a disciple of such greats as Dexter Gordon, Coltrane and Rollins as he assimilates their influence into his own rich sound, especially shining on tenor. His songs, both modal pieces and ballads, sound
like he writes for the audience rather than himself; a joy to hear in this day of the self-produced CDs all over the
place with ego written all over them.
A very nice set fro Jimmy Greene and friends.
Jimmy Greene Issues His ‘Mission Statement’ (Razdaz Recordz)
Written by Mario Carrington
Wednesday, 03 June 2009
Mission Statement features tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene along his working band of Xavier Davis on keyboards, Reuben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland on drums. They have performed together for seven years and their musical conversations are superb and seemingly effortless, though we know that’s not the case. (BTW, for effective discourse, is there anyone who practices the art of listening better than accomplished jazz musicians?)
The Greene Quartet is developing the simpatico you hear from super groups that have been together awhile and appear to communicate telepathically when performing. Examples of this would be the Keith Jarrett Trio, the Branford Marsalis Quartet or the Dave Holland Quintet. The musicianship on this album is as tight as those standard-bearers. Guest appearances are made by guitarist Lage Lund and vibraphonist Stefon Harris, and it all adds up to a buy recommendation for this CD.
Jimmy Greene’Pablo Secca
The title track is a spirited opening where the runway is cleared for Greene and Lund to take individual flights and then engage in a brisk call-and-response exchange, soon followed by a Harland improvisation with Greene then closing things out. ‘Fathers And Sons’ by hint of suggestion sets a deliberative mood encouraging you to reflect about what it means to be a father, son or both. Thoughtful musings first by Greene, then Lund, with soulful support from the rhythm section, enhance the vibe.
‘Trials’ has an extended introduction succeeded by solos from Greene, Davis and Harland which expand different elements of the initial construct. ‘Revelation’ features Greene on soprano and Harris on vibraphone who come through with a grand piece of collaboration. The contrapuntal ‘Mr. Octopus’ extends a star turn to each member of the quartet to shine brightly. ‘Ana Grace’ can be summed up in one word – beautiful.
All ten compositions are originals from Greene. Those mentioned above, along with other selection highlights such as ‘Love In Action,’ ‘YeahYouRight!,’ and ‘Give Thanks,’ will yield an optimal return on your album investment.
JIMMY GREENE-MISSION STATEMENT
Reviewer Damian Erskine
I was familiar with Jimmy Greene from my familiarity (obsession) with Avishai Cohen’s music (Jimmy was a wonderful contributer to Avishai’s band in the 90’s. Avishai is also given credit as one of the executive producers on this recording). I have to say that this is the best Jimmy Greene I’ve heard yet! Not just his playing (which is masterful), but his compositions and the overall vibe of the album really draws you in. This CD is a supremely musical statement (Mission Statement, if you will… couldn’t help it).
The band is just about as good as it gets, as well… Reuben Rogers supports the band on bass with a warm and supportive upright tone and a perfect time-feel, Eric Harland on drums is always a treat to listen to, Xavier Davis on Piano & Rhodes, Lage Lund on Guitar and Stefon Harris playing Vibes on Revelation. MAN… what a band!
Every time I’ve had this CD playing while musician friends are near, one or the other is guaranteed to ask what it is… It’s got style, depth, musicality and sound that makes you want to LISTEN. Just a killin’ release, Jimmy!
Jimmy Greene – Mission Statement (2009)
Late last year I covered a new release by David Weiss’ New Jazz Composers Octet, The Turning Gate. The names found in this band aren’t household names, but the high level of musicianship and composition writing savvy by every member of this collective nevertheless makes this a real jazz supergroup.
Well, today comes a new release by a member of the NJCO, the young tenor and soprano sax sensation Jimmy Greene. Called Mission Statement, I’m again reminded of his talents both as a player and composer.
While still in high school, Greene had the good fortune of learning first hand from one of the all time greats, Jackie McLean, and Greene adapted much of McLean’s advanced alto technique to the tenor. Of course, there’s some Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane to be found in his sound, too, but the end result is a style that’s mainstream bop, albeit in his own way.
Greene can compose some rather urbane, well-conceived jazz compositions, too. Its a talent that’s garnered him many awards and distinctions over the years. Like his playing style, it’s advanced bop, but not so much advanced you lose track of where the melody is headed.
For Mission Statement, Greene was able to assemble a stellar crew to back him up. He brought in a very promising young guitarist by the name of Lage Lund, the 2005 Thelonius Monk international competition winner. His rhythm section consists of the same rhythm section Charles Lloyd used for his outstanding record from last year, Rabo de Nube: Reuben Rogers on acoustic bass and the very prolific Eric Harland on drums. And finally, Reeves selected fellow NJCO compadre Xavier Davis on piano.
Curiously, while half of The Turning Gate’s compositions were Davis’s, Greene contributed none. On this affair, however, Greene has written all but one of the ten songs, the exception being Harry Smith’s ‘Give Thanks,’ which was nevertheless given a new arrangement by Greene.
With all the right ingredients in place, there are an abundance of highlights; here are just a few:
The opener, ‘Mission Statement,’ kicks off the album the right way: a tour-de-force of the spirited side of Greene. Harmonically complex but always arriving at the right spot, Greene and Lund weave through the changes with the facility of seasoned masters. On ‘Trials,’ Davis’ places his notes off the beat, creating a real funky current. Greene shows astonishing control in hitting the high notes, as Harland is powering the knotty rhythm with the skill of a Jack DeJohnette.
‘Revelation’ benefits from a guest appearance from vibe phenom Stefon Harris. On this tune, Greene switches to soprano, and it proves to be the perfect complement to Harris’ warm tones and challenging note runs.
The beautifully blue-shaded ‘In Nelba’s Eyes’ is perhaps the strongest track of this set. It’s a delicate, slightly lugubriously lyrical number, and Greene’s tenor is oozing with romanticism. For ‘Ana Grace,’ 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.
The album is named Mission Statement because as Jimmy Greene relates in the liner notes, it ‘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.’ If that’s the case, then it can be said that Greene leads a fulfilling, rich life.
Mission Statement is presented by Avishai Cohen’s label, Razdaz Records.
MISSION STATEMENT – Jazz.com review
Greene’s great facility as a composer and arranger comes from finding endless harmonic possibilities out of the tried-and-true post-bop format, and that’s amply demonstrated on ‘Mission Statement.’ He pairs off Davis and Rogers to state the theme as a restless current. Meanwhile, Greene himself and Lund set a fluid counter line. Even in the chorus, Greene sets up opposing statements between himself and Davis. Harland shuffles and stammers throughout, barely staying behind the front line. The leader shows just as much creative intensity in his solo, blowing with the fire of his old mentor, alto great Jackie McLean, but using the meaty tone of his tenor. Lund follows with a more introspective, soulful outpouring that temporarily winds down the tune, and Harland helps to bring it to an end with a blistering eruption.
As a song that offers much of what is talented about Jimmy Greene, ‘Mission Statement’ is just that.
Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron