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.
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.