Saxophonist Tim Green Passes Away

New Orleans musicians have expressed an outpouring of condolences and expressions of loss over the sudden death of saxophone great and longtime sideman Tim Green.

Green’s years as a prodigious live and session performer were profiled in an April 2000 OffBeat article by Jonathan Tabak.

Tim Green

After a slow start to his musical training, Green was fortunate enough to be in the right place (Central Park in New York) at the right time (during a two-day jazz festival) to get the kickoff that he needed, as he explained in the article:

“It sounds like a fairy tale or a fiction, but it’s absolutely true. I was sitting in the grass under some trees eating lunch. I had the book Chasin’ the Trane with me. This little beat-up red Toyota comes driving up the sidewalk and stops in front of me. It’s Hank Crawford and Grover Washington, Jr., and Grover asks where the stage is. They must have assumed that I was on staff. I said, ‘Let me get in the car with you and I’ll direct you to the stage.’ And I just kind of, in a nice way, worked my way into hanging out with those guys for the next two days. Grover was so gracious and such a beautiful person. I told him I was thinking about studying music and playing sax, and asked if he gave lessons. He said, ‘No, I don’t give lessons, but if you get a horn, I’ll help you the best way I can. I’ll write you and tell you some things you need to do.’”

Green moved to New Orleans in 1978, and he quickly found himself playing with Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Cyril Neville, Tommy Ridgley, Mem Shannon, Terrance Simien, Gatemouth Brown, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Hornsby, The Indigo Girls, Maceo Parker, and many, many others before settling in with James Singleton for various band formations over the years.

OffBeat publisher Jan Ramsey remembers Green fondly as one of the nicest musicians she has ever met.

“He was truly one of the nicest men on the planet, so dedicated to whatever he was doing,” Ramsey said. “I think he was the first musician who ever wrote me a sincere thank you note when we wrote about him in OffBeat, and every time he won a Best of The Beat Award, which he did, several times.”

As a fitting tribute to Tim Green’s life and his sound, here’s a video of Green laying down a hauntingly beautiful solo while performing with Singleton and Mike Dillon in 2011.

Rest in peace, Tim Green.

  • scatterjazz

    I learned of this 4 hours ago, tho as i understand it he was found yesterday after a couple days missing. It sounds perhaps hyperbole, but I believe it true to state that no single musician has provided more moments of exquisite, sad, gloriously pained and magically elated transformation in my own personal live listening experience than our friend Tim Green. I have thought of the truth of that often, and I always hoped he knew how much he means to all of us. When he would be told such things he would always reflect it to say it was we, the listeners, who gave the magic to him by being there to hear what he had to say. Every time in his humble hands that horn took me places and filled me with spirits that had no match. And he was a friend, and kind to me and my family and the world around him. I love him dearly as we all do. –Scatterjazz

  • GinaV

    One of the kindest, most talented people on the planet. We lost a great man and musician and many of us lost a dear friend. RIP my sweet friend. Listening to a cd you made for me now…will never forget you

  • Karl Ben

    On the phone now with my old friend Robert Murray, and heartbroken. Just walked in my door and Murray calls my cell with the news minutes ago. Met Tim in ’88 two years out of high school (Warren Easton). WWOZ days; later at RBH near Audubon. The guy was an absolute gentlemen with a “G”. Tim was one of the kindest people have ever met in my life. Just a good guy.

  • sraw

    I first heard Tim Green play with Anders Osborne, where he added a dimension to the music which made it world class rather than “merely” (tongue in cheek here) New Orleans great. I was struck and impressed by his serious, all out, take no prisoners approach, like his soul was hanging on every note, commanding your attention. The man had gravitas, duende – whatever you want to call it – and though I didn’t know or follow him closely, I am saddened and will miss him.

  • MikeyB59

    This is sad sad news. Tim Green made every situation I heard him in vastly better. I never knew him or knew anything about him personally, but every time I heard him play he took me and the music to a deep and beautiful place. With Anders, 3 Now 4 or any of a number of groups he was always great. The last time I heard him was in some group I don’t know the name of when I wandered into the new Frenchman club (Babaloo…not sure) the first night I got to jazz fest. He was in some hybrid band and I immediately smiled seeing that he was there, knowing the music would be lifted to a higher place whenever he played. He will be deeply missed.