Ornette wins the Pulitzer

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Sounds Andorran...

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Sounds Andorran...

Yes, but for this one I might have to compromise my principles, as I only have one of the two releases of this material.

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Clem -- I'm afraid Chuck is right here. In particular, most anyone who's spent some time in conversation with Ornette (not that that's necessary, but it probably helps) will tell you that you'd have better chance getting the West Wind to make an annual contribution to the March of Dimes than you would getting Ornette to do any of the things you'd like him to do. About Denardo I don't know, but even if he is, as you seem to suspect, a much different kind of guy than his father is, I can't imagine that Denardo would get very far if he did try to push Ornette in a direction that Ornette didn't feel like going. BTW, I'm not trying to paint Ornette as some kind of child, just as a near-absolute, probably permanent one-off. Given what we've all received from him .. well, we could have gotten much less.

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Ornette Coleman -- Complete Live At The Hillcrest Club . . . CD

Early May, 2007

Please tell us more.

I'm afraid I don' know any more--this was on the dustygroove upcoming releases list.

That looks like the Fabulous Paul Bley Quintet albums that came out on America in 1971. The group with Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman, Bley, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins recorded at the Hillcrest club.

Paul Bley sold copies of the tapes to America for release.


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I've been away, so catching up here -

1) it's likely Zorn has more than one fee, especially in relation to overseas, where musicians tend to make more $$$$ - he likes to play NYC and the Stone, so probably subsidizes that with his Euro fees.

2) Certainly Ornette does not HAVE to perform - but he has complained continually about lack of bookings and recognition, when I honestly think his fees were/are self-destructing. Can't have it both ways.

3) when I was running the New Haven Jazz Festival, a free outdoor fest, from 1990-1993, we paid most bands bewtween $5-8,000 (examples: Max Roach got $8,000; Tony WIlliams $7500; F. Hubbard $7,000; Moody got $6,000) - I called Dolly McLean and offered her $7500 for Jackie's quartet. Now, remember that a) Jackie lived in Hartford, a 45 minute drive from New Haven; and b) he worked with young guys from his school, and I KNOW he wasn't paying them more than maybe $500/a night; SO - he would have had to be in New Haven by 7:30 PM; would have played from 8PM to 10 PM; would have been home in bed by midnight at the latest; and would have pocketed maybe $5-$6,000.

Dolly turned me down; it wasn't enough - and, I will tell you, I've been to Jackie's house; he did not have a lot of money and could have used the cash -

Edited by AllenLowe

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I can't take anyone with the moniker, "Terry Teachout", seriously. :cool:

Edited by paul secor

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September 26 2007 Los Angeles? News to me...

Must be in an as-yet-unannounced Disney Hall or UCLA show or something...

It's a Wednesday night - probably the Hollywood Bowl or Disney Hall- they usually have jazz on Wednesdays.

I checked the Disney Hall (Philarmonic) website and couldn't find any mention of this. Also not listed in the Bowl's schedule. Does the Bowl season even go into September?

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Teachout gets some things wrong: He writes, "prior to 2004, Pulitzer [music] juries consisted of four composers and a critic," but even though that's what it says on the Pulitzer website, from the inception of the Pulitzer music award in 1943 until the early 1990s (more about that later), Pulitzer music juries consisted almost exclusively of composers (usually three of them). The only exceptions to this, I believe, were, on one occasion each, critic Irving Kolodin and conductor-writer Robert Craft. Second, to say that "the Pulitzer Prize had ... a bad reputation among music professionals" is a statement so baldly incomplete as to border on being back-ass-wards. The problem with the music Pulitzers from the very first until recent tinkerings were undertaken -- and one can argue about how much of a problem it was and what the solution to that problem might or should have been -- is that the music Pulitzer juries consisted ENTIRELY of music professionals of a certain sort or sorts: American composers whose works were being paid attention to by other American composers of so-called "serious" concert music. Within this bag, there were fluctuating waves of fashion over the years -- Copland-esque Americanists, university-based serialists, etc. -- but Pulitzer music juries, again, consisted for better or for worse entirely, given the nature of the world or worlds of American classical composition, of people who can only be called professional composers. So who were Teachout's music professionals with whom the music Pulitzers had a bad reputation? Professional composers by the standard mentioned above who were not in tune with the compostional in-group of a particular time -- say Samuel Barber-esque neo-Romantics during the height of the academic serialist phase? Or by "music professionals" does Teachout mean professional performers and conductors? If so, that would be a whole differerent matter, and a whole different set of considerations would have to be brought to bear. (For one thing, how many performers and conductors are able or willing to become familiar with the current state of American composition. In practice, in my experience, the performers and conductors who do that are no less, or even more so, a group of specialists than the composers who have been on all those Pulitzer juries over the years.) In any case, before we go any further, here is a list of the Pulitzer music winners from 1943 to 2001 (though as I'll explain in a minute, things began to get weird behind the scenes in 1992):


William Schuman (b. 1910). Secular Cantata No. 2: A Free Song for full chorus of mixed voices, with accompaniment of orchestra.


Howard Hanson (1896-1981). Symphony no. 4, op. 34.


Aaron Copland (1900-1990). Appalachian Spring.


Leo Sowerby (1895-1968). The Canticle of the Sun.


Charles Ives (1874-1954). Symphony no. 3.


Walter Piston (1894-1976). Symphony no. 3


Virgil Thomson (1896-1989). Louisiana Story. (Score for a documentary film.)


Gian-Carlo Menotti (b. 1911). The Consul. (Opera.)


Douglas Moore (1893-1969). Giants in the Earth. (Opera.)


Gail Kubik (1914-1984). Symphony Concertante.


Not awarded.


Quincy Porter (1897-1966). Concerto Concertante for Two Pianos and Orchestra.


Gian-Carlo Menotti (b. 1911). The Saint of Bleecker Street. (Opera in three acts.)


Ernst Toch (1887-1964). Symphony no. 3.


Norman Dello Joio (b. 1913). Meditations on Ecclesiastes.


Samuel Barber (1910-1981). Vanessa. (Opera.)


John La Montaine (b. 1920). Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, op. 9.


Elliott Carter (b. 1908). Second String Quartet.


Walter Piston (1894-1976). Symphony no. 7.


Robert Ward (b. 1917). The Crucible. (Opera.)


Samuel Barber (1910-1981). Piano Concerto no. 1, op. 38.


Not awarded.


Not awarded.


Leslie Bassett (b. 1923). Variations for Orchestra.


Leon Kirchner (b. 1919). Quartet no. 3 for strings and electronic tape.


George Crumb (b. 1929). Echoes of Time and the River.


Karel Husa (b. 1921). String Quartet no. 3.


Charles Wuorinen (b. 1938). Time's Encomium.


Mario Davidovsky (b. 1934). Synchronisms no. 6.


Jacob Druckman (1928-1996). Windows.


Elliott Carter (b. 1908). String quartet no. 3.


Donald Martino (b. 1931). Notturno.


Dominick Argento (b. 1927). From the Diary of Virginia Woolf.


Ned Rorem (b. 1923). Air Music.


Richard Wernick (b. 1934). Visions of Terror and Wonder.


Michael Colgrass (b. 1932). Deja Vu for Percussion and Orchestra.


Joseph Schwantner (b. 1943). Aftertones of Infinity.


David Del Tredici (b. 1937). In Memory of a Summer Day.


Not awarded.


Roger Sessions (1896-1985). Concerto for Orchestra.


Ellen Zwilich (b. 1939). Three Movements for Orchestra. (Symphony no. 1.)


Bernard Rands (b. 1934). Canti del Sole.


Stephen Albert (1941-1992). Symphony RiverRun.


George Perle (b. 1915). Wind Quintet no. 4, for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon.


John Harbison (b. 1938). The Flight into Egypt.


William Bolcom (b. 1938). 12 New Etudes for Piano.


Roger Reynolds (b. 1934). Whispers Out of Time.


Mel D. Powell (1923-1998). Duplicates: A Concerto.


Shulamit Ran (b. 1947). Symphony.


Wayne Peterson (b. 1927). The Face of the Night.


Christopher Rouse (b. 1949). Trombone Concerto.


Gunther Schuller (b. 1925). Of Reminiscences and Reflections.


Morton Gould (1931-1996). Stringmusic.


George Walker (b. 1922). Lilacs for soprano and orchestra.


Wynton Marsalis (b. 1961). Blood on the Fields. Oratorio.


Aaron Jay Kernis (b. 1960). String Quartet No. 2, Musica Instrumentalis


Melinda Wagner. Concerto for Flute, Strings, and Percussion.


Lewis Spratlan. Life is a Dream, opera in three acts: ACT II, Concert Version.


John Corigliano. Symphony No. 2 for String Orchestra.

As it happens, I'm familiar with a fair number of those works and think of the following Pulitzer winners as either outright masterworks or very notable pieces: Copland's Appalachian Spring, Ives' Sym. No. 3, the two Piston symphonies, the two Carter String Quartets, Barber's "Vanessa" and his Piano Concerto, Thomson's "Louisiana Story," Kirchner's String Quartet No. 3, Powell's Duplicates, Perle's Wind Quintet, Sessions' Concerto for Orchestra, Del Tredici's In a Memory of Summer Day, Toch's Sym. No. 3, and Martino's Notturno. Schuman is a talented composer, but I don't know his Pulitzer-winning work. I also don't know the Husa String Quartet No. 3, though I admire other works by him. So that's a success rate, by my own subjective standard, of about thirty per cent -- which I don't think is too bad for an award that is constrained by its annual nature (that is, if a number of major works crop up in say, 1959, only one going to win) . Also, FWIW, the stylistic range of the pieces I've just listed is pretty darn wide, no?

Now all that needs to be modified by a list of the great or notable works that didn't get Pulitzers. Leaving aside for a bit the question of the kinds of music that arguably ought to get into the Pulitzer mix that haven't or didn't over the years, I'd have to think about this for a while to be sure, but the only names that leap to my mind right now are John Adams (and he did get a Pulitzer in 2003 for his 9/11 piece "On The Transmigration of Souls"), John Cage, and Morton Feldman. Teachout's list probably would include Adams, but not Cage or Feldman. Who else he feels has been unjustly left out I don't know, unless and until we open the music of other kinds bag -- though when it did in fact get opened or begin to get opened in in the Pulitzer world in 1992, it was inextricably part of a bureaucratic power struggle that would lead directly to the IMO infamous arm-twisting award to Blood On The Fields.

Here's the visible, widely reported story of the 1992 music Pulitzers:

"A controversial music Pulitzer was awarded in 1992 and spawned a tidal wave of responses and commentaries in newspapers throughout the country. The Pulitzer music jury, George Perle, Roger Reynolds, and Harvey Sollberger, unanimously chose Ralph Shapey's "Concerto Fantastique" for the award. However, the Pulitzer Board rejected that recommendation, choosing instead the jury's second choice, 'The Face of the Night' by Wayne Peterson. The music jury responded with a public statement stating that the jury had not been consulted in that decision and that the Board was not professionally qualified to make a decision. The Board responded that the 'pulitzers are enhanced by having, in addition to the professional's point of view, the layman's or consumer's point of view.' The Board did not rescind its decision."

A whole lot more went on being the scenes here, about which I can't comment in public. But suffice it to say that Pulitzer music juries have been more or less packed (in a new and quite deliberate manner) since '92 (this is when journalists were added to the jury), and that it was one such journalist, Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune, who engineered the award to Blood on the Fields, in conjunction with felllow jury member John Lewis, recipient of a commission from J@LC. Reich BTW has writen quite freely about how he accomplished this.

The problem here is that while some jazz works are works in the sense that the Pulitzer music prize outlines, many of the most important acts of jazz creation are not works in that sense but more sequential affairs that call for if not a literal lifetime achievement award, something of that sort. Just think of Lee Konitz, for one. Obviously ineligible by strict Pulitzer standards, but...

Back now to Ornette's Pulitzer and Teachout's piece. After what occurred in '92, which initiated the jury-packing process that first bore the fruit it was designed to bear with Blood On The Fields, I'd say that

most if not all bets are off here, and that that is the real story with the music Pulitzers. So Ornette's award is a lifetime achievement award in disguise, and Sound Grammar was a fine album IMO but not

a work as the music Pulitzer defines a work. Well, if that's the standard, we'd get very few jazz-related "orthodox" Pulitzers ever, only actual lifetime achievement awards or such awards in disguise. And if that's what Ornette's Pulitzer really is, I don't have any problem with it, although I will freely admit that the music Pulitzers are more or less fixed now, even when they go to someone who arguably is deserving. On the other hand, I'd be just as happy, maybe even happier, if there were no jazz-related Pulitzers given unless they fell under the orthodox Pulitzer standards. If that means Bob Brookmeyer gets one, that would be nice. But I'm afraid it would go to Maria Schneider -- either that or, once other claques are heard, it would be, as Teachout the neo-Mencken says, prizes for everyone.

Edited by Larry Kart

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Thank you Larry Kart.

Free jazz pioneer's awards honour

One of jazz's great innovators, Ornette Coleman, has spoken of his feelings

after receiving two major music awards at the age of 77.

Coleman has won both a lifetime achievement Grammy and the Pulitzer Prize

for music in recent months, the latter awarded for his latest album Sound


The saxophonist told BBC World Service's The Beat programme that although he

has often had a prickly relationship with critics, "I can't say it doesn't

mean anything."

"It makes me aware of the growth that I have achieved," he said.

"I do honour people that know more than I do, and tell me if it's good, if

it has meaning.

"If I have found a way to share what I do, to inspire people to go even

further than what I don't know yet - that idea is the most supreme form of

expression in culture."


Coleman is known as one of the great jazz innovators, pioneering improvised

"free jazz."

In 1960, his album Free Jazz split the jazz world. By discarding jazz

elements such as fixed chord changes, Coleman was hailed as groundbreaking

by some.

And he remains unapologetic about how he has pushed at boundaries through

his career.

"I've had people say, 'you can't play like that' - and I say, 'what do you

mean - I've already played it.'

"I'm not trying - I'm playing."

However, early 1960s acclaimed jazz musicians such as Miles Davis regarded

Coleman's music as a direct affront to their years of training - something

Coleman rejects.

I have taught myself everything I know

Ornette Coleman

"I wasn't thinking of insults, I was thinking of ideas," Coleman said.

"Imagine - if you don't have ideas, what are you going to do?

"They weren't playing movements, they were playing changes. I was playing

ideas, changes and non-transposed notes."

He recalled in particular the day his mother bought him a horn when he was a

young boy.

"I thought it was a toy and I played it the way I am playing today," he


"I didn't know that you had to learn to play, I thought you had to play to

play. And I still think that.

"I didn't know that music was a style and that it had rules and stuff. I

thought it was just sound. I still believe that.

"I am not that sensitive or that weak to believe that because someone says I

can't do something, I haven't done it.

"I have taught myself everything I know. I have written symphonies, and

no-one has taught me. Because I realised that the human being is all there


Story from BBC NEWS:

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A related take on some of this discussion. Composer John Luther Adams' list, compiled in 2000, of the works he thinks should have been honored with the Pulitzer. Hat Tip to an Alex Ross tweet for the link. I know many of the pieces on this list but by no means all, so I'll be using this as a guide to explore some works I should know.

(I suppose this would probably be better suited to the Classical forum, but it seemed related to a longstanding conversation that grew out of Ornette's Pulitzer a few years ago.)

Edited by Mark Stryker

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