WestConn Jazz Professor Jimmy Greene Earns Arts Award

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Western Connecticut State University faculty member Jimmy Greene is one of three recipients of the 2013 Governor's Arts Award. Photo Credit: Contributed by Western Connecticut State University

DANBURY, Conn. – Jazz artist and Western Connecticut State University professor Jimmy Greene is one of three people who will be honored with the Connecticut Governor's Arts Award.

He will be joining Yale University professor and writer Elizabeth Alexander and University of Connecticut professor and artist Olu Oguibe as the 2013 recipients of the award in a ceremony during the International Festival for Arts and Ideas in New Haven on June 15. Gov. Dannel Malloy will be presenting the awards before a concert at 6:30 p.m.

During the ceremony and concert, Greene will lead a performance by the Jimmy Greene Quintet.

He is an internationally known saxophonist, composer and bandleader and an assistant professor of music and assistant coordinator of jazz studies at WestConn.

“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 Greene, a Hartford native, in a statement. “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.”

In April, Greene brought together an array of leading jazz artists to participate in the WCSU Jazz Fest concert, “Friends of Jimmy Greene,” dedicated to the victims of the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 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,” said 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.” 

Down Beat magazine named him one of its “25 Young Rising Stars in Jazz” in 1999. He has since 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.

The awards program and concert will be held on the Elm Street Stage at the New Haven Green. Admission will be free, and the public is invited to attend.

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