Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A "Beautiful Life" Recreates One

Writer’s block affects many, so I will use that excuse since I have none other to explain my absence of too many months.

My writing desert evaporated with a random purchase of the New York Times on Nov. 27 and reading a measured, delicate and insightful review by Nate Chinen of saxophonist Jimmy Greene’s new album Beautiful Life. Greene’s six-year-old daughter, Ana Marquez-Greene, was a victim of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The recording is Green’s very personal tribute to her.

After an initial cursory scanning of the NYT’s article, I found myself tearing up. And I then thought of my unfinished blog written on Virgin America flight 23 from JFK to SFO on Dec. 14, 2012. I, like other captive travelers, watched in horrified silence as the Sandy Hook massacre unfolded before us.

Over the next 28 days I wrote, edited and struggled repeatedly with making the content of the communications article personal and relevant for my blog. Finally, on January 10, 2013, “VISUAL Memory is Powerful” was posted to Notes Into Images.

Although I had worked with the copy for almost a month, I was not satisfied; the content didn’t hang together, and the title wasn’t right! What did work was the Virgin purple photo of an empty cabin with row after row of flickering seat-back TV screens.  

Now this beautiful album by Jimmy Greene appears: a collection of music and song (one an audio clip of Ana singing a hymn with her brother) that gives a lasting and positive visual of a horrible day.

Words sometimes fail, but music rarely does—and this album captures the life, specialness and beauty of a six year old who was dearly loved by her family and friends and taken away too soon. With his album Beautiful Life, Jimmy Greene, shows how Ana lived her life, not how she died. Through music and song the visual memory succeeds.

The images of a horrible day shared with the passengers of Virgin Flight 23 have evaporated and been replaced with a smiling and adoring Ana with her hands clasped in her father’s tender embrace.

Album:  Beautiful Life
Mack Avenue Records 

Visuals: photo of Ana and her father by K. Rifkind Photography