Place your bets!

And the winner is:

Awarded to “Sound Grammar” by Ornette Coleman, recording released September 12, 2006.

Other finalists:

Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Grendel” by Elliot Goldenthal, premiered June 8, 2006 by the Los Angeles Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, libretto by Julie Taymor and J.D. McClatchy, and “Astral Canticle” by Augusta Read Thomas, premiered June 1, 2006 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (G. Schirmer, Inc.).


A posthumous special citation to composer John Coltrane for his masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz.

By Evan

36 thoughts on “2007 Pulitzer Prize and finalists to be announced at 3:00 pm”
  1. Yeah, I was wondering about that opera thing myself. Wasn’t Rorem’s “Our Town” premiered last year? I did think that Reich was going to (finally) get it, but I haven’t heard the “Daniel” piece.

    I’m a little bothered about the idea that they went out and nominated Ornette themselves. I’ve heard stories of members of the committee contacting the eventual winner, asking him to send something, anything in. It seems that this was to be his year, whether he wanted it to be or not. The piece for which he won was an insignificant work. There are parallels with the Ornette thing, although I don’t think this is an insignificant album. Heck, it’s got two bass players, and neither sounds superfluous!

    Yet, I’d be okay with the ‘lifetime achievement’ award – where they honor someone for their entire output, not one specific work.

  2. Truth is I find it is fascinating how successful the jazz PR machine has been. In a frighteningly racist country they have done amazing work squeezing into ruling class institutions. Of course this kind of recognition is long overdue but I wonder if letting jazz in and keeping the rest out has something to do with our abominable past and present – a kind of affirmative action. I am in no way taking a position on that but lets be clear about what it is.

    Has there been any media or scholarship on this angle?

    Or maybe it is just a signal that the best jazz has no other place anymore in the US.

  3. Getting nominated truly doesn’t mean anything — but being a finalist may be very meaningful: presumably, the jury couldn’t choose a winner that wasn’t first chosen as a finalist.

  4. Haha… good point. People just take music way too seriously I guess…

    The Grendel thing was weird though. Not what I would imagine getting nominated. Not that getting nominated means anything now! 😉

  5. “Does anyone else find it interesting — considering all the major new operas that premiered last year — that Grendel was a finalist?”

    Yeah, I do (and I don’t.)

  6. Turns out – if the story is true – Ornette wasn’t even nominated. Now that, is just a little weird – not the he wasn’t nominated – but that the committee would take it upon itself to go buy a CD and then give the dude a prize.

    The music world is getting just a little weird these days – so many agendae and good music is what is getting lost – as the powerful assert themselves into systems designed for quality – not for the assertion of musico-political power. The watering down effect itself is getting watered down!

  7. I can’t agree more with Anthony C’s judgment of the choice of Ornette. If you listen to Shape of Jazz to Come, it’s not greatly dissonant, it’s melodic, and it sounds like jazz, except that there’s no chordal instrument, and people acted like the guy was pissing on stage. His later work is furiously dissonant and obtuse, and I think a little bombastic, but the guy is a true great in the jazz world. What would have been better, and this never happens… recognize the guy when he’s doing his best work, and then recognize someone else in 2007 that’s doing their best work.

    Instead, they beat the guy with clubs for thirty years, give him a prize for an album that’s sub par, and then the guy who is pushing the envelope on music, whether jazz or classical, is being beaten with clubs for the next twenty years just like they did to Ornette.

    As far as the thing with Coltrane, people really ought to be ashamed. The guy languished in the dungeon for most of his career and got scathing reviews, they wait till the guy is dead and write paeans to A Love Supreme in Time Magazine and give him posthumous rewards.

  8. Another category worth mention –

    I just noticed that LA Times music critic Mark Swed was one of the finalists for the criticism award this year. As I mention on my blog this is especially interesting considering that he, as well as the other finalist and the winner all write for Los Angeles publications – Jonathan Gold for the LA Weekly and Christopher Knight for the LA Times.

  9. …better late than never”

    I don’t think 77 is late for a major prize to a living artist. On the other hand I will submit that “Posthumous Lifetime Achievement Awards” are the very definition of “never.”

  10. All I can say is that it is about time that Coltrane and Coleman have been recognized as the masters of AMERICAN MUSIC that they are. The influence of these two giants of 20th century music is far ranging and crosses over most genres. It is a shame that it has taken so long for the Pulitzer committe to recognize these two great artists but as they say…better late than never

  11. ¡mire su lenguaje! Si desea “rant” sobre los Estados Unidos y Iraq, no insulta a todos nosotros norteamericanos. Tambien, que es su problema con Juan Schaefer? Porque crea que el debe ir al Iraq?

  12. Well, I remember out in Seattle enjoying a Prime Time show with Ornette. They came onstage just after the Jan Garbarek trio played. All the new-agers left.

    Still, I’m really bummed out at the decay…the Pulitzer used to mean something in the days of Donald Martino. Now, these are the days of that moron Schaeffer calling the shots on the so-called “new music” programme he D.J.s (for wont of a better term) on NPR.

    I hate the decay. Long live high modernism!
    And long live Malcolm X!

    But don’t mix the two.

  13. More good news was Cormac McCarthy whose outstanding “The Road” won for literature.

  14. Considering the three options , it would’ve been a damn shame to not give it to Ornette…

  15. I’m fine with the Pulitzer going to Jazz. Just wonder if it was intentional to move the award in that direction, since the creation of the new “rules.”

    And if the Kennedy Center wants to call it “America’s classical music,” let them…but Jazz is jazz, no need to call it anything else.

    The public radio station I work for is 24-hours of “Western classical” music (with two sister stations, also public, devoted to news and AAA), with a a portion of its programming devoted to American music. If you want to check out a rarity in radio, visit

  16. “… just a fashion thing? Zorn?” (Jeff H.)

    Daniel, the Kennedy Center just spent the last two months celebrating Jazz as “America’s classical music”, while public radio, in the Capital, doesn’t play America’s non-jazz classical music.

    Congratulations to Mssrs Coleman and Coltrane.


    Maybe there could be a new Pulitzer for best new opera as well as classical/jazz work …

  17. Hard to find fault with Coltrane or Ornette. I remember collecting Coltrane LPs when I was a teenager, but that was a long time ago. You normally think of the Pulitzer as being given for something that happened in the past year, so this seems like a real stretch into the past.

    Steven Stucky appeared recently at Cal Lutheran for a concert of his works. That is the sort of composer you would think would normally be selected.

    Too bad Coltrane can’t get some concert gigs out of this…

  18. I have a theory that they were hoping to pick a piece this year that wasn’t written by a long-suffering audience-annoying boring academic hack.

    I keeed… I keeed… 😉

  19. Any thoughts on the Pulitzer committee intentionally steering the award in Jazz’s direction?

  20. Wo talk about a jazz-friendly jury!

    *Yehudi Wyner, professor of music, Brandeis University, Medford, MA (Chair)

    John Schaefer, host, Soundcheck, WNYC Radio

    Ingrid Monson, Quincy Jones Professor of African-American Music, Harvard University

    David Baker, distinguished professor of music and chair of the Jazz department, Indiana University

    John Rockwell, critic, The New York Times

    *past Pulitzer Prize winner

  21. The winner(s) will be posted online at 3:15. Until then we can all nurse our fantasies.

  22. Haha Jay… yeah we always have a bottle of champagne in our fridge. Shit happens!

    Yeah I’m thinking a maverick of some sort… just a fashion thing? Zorn?

  23. Personally I’m wondering if this isn’t going to be the year they give it to a non-“classical” musician. Although Steve Reich is also coming due for one of their patented lifetime-achievement-awards-in-all-but-name… and he’s been a finalist a few times recently.

    I will say no more.

Comments are closed.