In 2012, saxophonist Jimmy Greene lost his six-year-old daughter Ana Grace Marquez-Greene when she was murdered alongside 20 of her schoolmates during the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Poignantly, he paid tribute to Ana on his soulful 2014 album Beautiful Life. For 2017's buoyant follow-up, Flowers: Beautiful Life, Vol. 2, Greene continues to draw inspiration from his daughter's short life, this time exploring her love of dance. Joining Greene here is a stellar lineup featuring pianist Renee Rosnes, bassists John Patitucci and Ben Williams, drummers Otis Brown III and Jeff "Tain" Watts, guitarist Mike Moreno, percussionist Rogerio Boccato, and guest vocalists Jean Baylor and Sheena Rattai. If the first Beautiful Life found Greene in an understandably grief-stricken and deeply poetic state of mind, Flowers reveals a man who will never fully let go of his pain, but who is much more connected to the memory of his daughter's vitality and love of life than the tragedy of her death. This vitality is reflected in the animated grooves and lively melodies Greene brings to Flowers. There's also an experimental vibe here, with Greene bending his largely acoustic post-bop sound a bit more heavily toward fusion, as on the knotty groover "Fun Circuits." Similarly, "Stink Thumb," with its spacy Rhodes keyboard, brings to mind the '70s jazz of Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi band. Even the far-eyed, soprano saxophone feature "Something About You" explodes mid-song into a choppy, angular improvisation. Still, there is a bittersweet tinge to the proceedings reflected in the languid, Latin flow of "Amantes" and the yearning vocal ballad "Someday." Remarkably, on Flowers: Beautiful Life, Vol. 2, Greene remains a productive, positive-minded artist whose music, and memory, have only deepened in their harmonic, rhythmic, and spiritual grace.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar