NEW YORK, NY – The great saxophonist Benny Carter made a statement in 1983 that went something like this: “We all had our mentors. From whom did [Coleman] Hawkins copy? I don’t think he followed anybody. He was a creator. He led.”
The young, vivacious and talented saxophonist, musician, composer and arranger, Tim Green, must have taken his cue from Hawkins, because his February 12, 2013 debut album on the True Melody Music label titled, Songs From This Season, has all the elements of emotional patterns where we can feel tension and release, and probably they will parallel, or in some way suggest movement in human life that evokes our passions, separations, joy, conflict, expectation, departure, tangency, truce and the like.
Tim Green has effectively used the 13 tracks in Songs From This Season to deliver a specific emotional freight. For example, in the Lost Soul track, Green dedicates the piece to some of his friends and family members who died at a young age. Listen to the cello – with its rich resonance and Green’s alto sax blending oh so beautifully with the many alluring drum rhythms, not unlike as a second-line march beat, and continues with an episode off-center soft fading beats from drums and sax.
Green, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, stated while his compositions display the influence of many different genres, the common thread among them is a direct emotionality, a vivid communication with the listener. This quality was inspired by some of Green’s mentors, most prominently Dick Oatts, with whom he studied at the Manhattan School of Music, and Terence Blanchard, one of the guiding lights of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
“Dick Oatts really introduced me to writing which is clearly articulated in this album,” Green stated.
Green has played sideman for a number of noted performers, but he stated that GRAMMY® winner Terence Blanchard was the one who encouraged him to not just write music but to write an actual song. “So many jazz records are just about the solos, but I wanted mine to be more about the songs and the melodies,” explained Green.
Green has recently garnered the attention of another one of his idols, GRAMMY® winning saxophonist Kenny Garrett.
While on the phone with mentor Mulgrew Miller one day, Green was shocked when the pianist handed the phone over to Garrett out of the blue. “I was really blown away because he’s a big hero of mine,” Green recalls. “Since then he’s been really supportive and just lets me know he’s on my side. He wants me to go all the way, and that’s really encouraging to me.”
More recently, Green has also gotten bandstand endorsements with several heavy hitters who have called upon him as a sideman. The list includes Miller, but also bassist Christian McBride, pianist Eric Reed, and the Carl Allen/Rodney Whitaker group.
Although this is his second album, Songs From This Season is Green’s first venture into extensively composing and arranging his own pieces – and what a magnificent masterpiece he produced!
Green, who was the second–place finisher in the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, has a niche for manipulating rhythmic patterns. Check out his arrangements on the Siloam track. Here you have a tune that is literally setting you up for a harmonic resolution that does not emerge, ending instead with a big, open sustained chord. The canonical repetition of the sax, bass, piano, drums and the elemental snare rhythms make for a satisfying ending.
Songs From This Season represents something of a culmination of Tim Green’s life experiences up to this point. The distinctive supple rhythms and candid emotions Green’s talented sidemen pump out in this album will have you bopping for well over an hour. The impressive list of sidemen on the session includes pianist Orrin Evans, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, guitarist Gilad Hekselman, drummers Rodney Green and Obed Calvaire, and several of Green’s collaborators in the thriving Baltimore/Washington D.C. jazz scene.
Measure for measure, Tim Green’s Songs From This Season CD combines everything he has learned over the long haul about the suppleness of timbre and the chimerical distinction between free and orderly improvisation; and his piping, elliptical, and fervently swinging saxophone playing is on full display for all to enjoy.
Danny R. Johnson is San Diego County News’ Jazz and Pop Music Critic.