Ornette Coleman to Receive $250,000 Gish Prize

Classic Arts News   Ornette Coleman to Receive $250,000 Gish Prize
Ornette Coleman, the alto saxophonist who helped to create "free jazz," will receive the $250,00 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize at New York's Hudson Theater on October 14, the New York Times reports.

Coleman burst onto the jazz scene in 1959 with his album The Shape of Jazz to Come, on which he improvised without a pre-determined chord structure. His 1960 double quartet recording Free Jazz, a 37-minute collective improvisation, gave a name (not always accurate) to jazz's growing avant-garde. In later years, he created a funk group called Prime Time and composed for orchestra. He is also the creator of a music theory system, impenetrable to most, called "harmolodics."

Coleman has been alternately honored and reviled for his innovations, but in recent years he has enjoyed a burst of appreciation from the jazz establishment. Earlier this year, Jazz at Lincoln Center performed a program of his works, and JALC artistic director Wynton Marsalis, often seen as a leading traditionalist, will deliver a tribute at the Gish Prize ceremony.

The 11-year-old Gish Prize is voted by a committee of leading arts figures, and has previously been awarded to theater director Lloyd Richards, choreographer Bill T. Jones, and architect Frank Gehry, among others.

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