While Looking Up

“While Looking Up”

(Mack Avenue Records)

At a time when the national discourse has devolved into partisan shouting matches, saxophonist Jimmy Greene recognizes the need for connection — not only to one another, but to a higher power. Inspired by the words of his pastor, the Connecticut native determined to look upward rather than inward for answers, the philosophy driving his latest release While Looking Up (Mack Avenue). That’s not to say that Greene’s not introspective, just that he draws sustenance from his faith and realizes a common spark of the divine in his fellow man — ideals that were sorely tested when he lost his 6-year-old daughter in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings of 2012. Greene also strove for connection with some old friends, who join him on the album. Guitarist Lage Lund, bassist Reuben Rogers and vibraphonist Stefon Harris had all played on his 2009 recording Mission Statement; pianist Aaron Goldberg and drummer Kendrick Scott had recorded with him even earlier. The album’s mood-shifting title track, included here, reflects the dichotomy of Greene’s serene confidence in his relationship with God, but at the same time expresses an existential questing that’s perhaps innately human. And his bandmates could hardly be more simpatico, with Goldberg and Lund eloquently echoing Greene’s sentiments, and Rogers and Scott sensitively shading and propelling the piece.

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