The New Orleans music community is surprised by the untimely passing of saxophone player Tim Green.

tim green photo

Last night, a clearly rattled, distraught Facebook post (since taken down) announced the death of saxophone player Tim Green. The nature of the post and ensuing conversation left some confusion, but today his passing is setting in. The breadth of Green's abilities were impressive, so he could contribute with equal taste, intelligence and precission to music by Mem Shannon, the Afrobeat band Kora Konnection, The Indigo Girls, and in improvised contexts with James Singleton, Jonathan Freilich, and Mike Dillon to name a few.

I first met Green in the early '90s when he worked at WRBH--Radio for the Blind--where he brought in local poets to read their work on one of the shows. I was impressed then by the breadth of his interests and his generosity. I wouldn't claim to truly know him, but all of my dealings with him were kind and polite.

Musically, the breadth of his knowledge and his ability to access it in performance was impressive. One year during a Jazz Journalists Association national convention in New Orleans, Green sat in at Sweet Lorraine's with a Brazilian keyboard player and percussionist and contributed powerful, soulful, post-bop solos that spoke eloquently from within the jazz tradition. A few years later, he was part of James Singleton's 3Now4estra playing a freakish sax that was so long and heavy that he had to rest it on the ground and sit on a barstool to play it. He contributed substratal rumblings that were just as right and exciting and conscious of the players around him as he was at Sweet Lorraine's.

"Crashing Vor" wrote about Green's passing at The Daily Kos, and there are more details about Green's life in his post. In part, the piece says

Tim's greatest strength as an artist, from the time he first began playing, was his adaptability and ear for improvisation. Whether the gig was complex modern jazz, standard New Orleans R&B and funk or powerful rock and roll, he was able to blend seamlessly with any combo or style. His work with Anders Osborne during the blues rocker's middle period, creating incredible castles of sound with Osborne on guitar, Kevin O'Day on drums and Kirk Joseph on sousaphone, is legendary among jam rock afficienados, while his collaborations with jazz greats like Jim Singleton, Johnny Vidacovitch and Michael Ray have been cited as the epitome of the genre.

Green played with guitarist and composer Jonathan Freilich in Naked on the Floor, and Frelich conducted a lengthy interview him that you can hear here.

At this point, we're only starting to find out what happened, but Facebook has many posts remembering Green. Jason Mingledorff wrote:

There aren't many musicians whose beautiful music literally brought me to tears. Tim Green's did so more than once. He inspired me to be true to myself and true to the art and music inside of me.

Tim Stambaugh wrote

Just awful, one of my oldest friends fr New Orleans just passed. The gentle soul, Tim Green has moved on. We spent many hours connecting as we wired and rebuilt wrbh, a project he held in his heart for many years . He also took the time to support my first group making those trips to Muddy Waters. And all the great sessions he was on here at the studio . Hard to imagine how many lives he touched.

More on remembrances of Green when they're announced.