Den prestisjefyllte Pulitzer Prize i musikk deles ut hvert år «… for a distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the year».
For 2015 er prisen nylig tildelt Henry Threadgills plate «In for a Penny, in for a Pound» som ble gitt ut på Pi Recordings i fjor. Det er bare tredje gangen siden 1943 at prisen tldeles en plate med improvisert musikk. Listen av prisvinnere er dominert av komponister innenfor det «seriøse» og «klassiske» feltet.
Plata – gitt ut med Threadgills band Zooid – er beskrevet av Threadgill selv som at den har en episk karakter. Platas fortelling er et epos – en fortelling om heroiske dåder – eller som Asbjørn Aarnes betegner det i «Litterært leksikon» – en fortelling som vekker leseren – eller lytteren – til åndelig liv.
Threadgill sa nylig til det amerikanske radionettverket NPR at slike epos
«… reveal a lot of information. And epics are also poetic, you know — there’s a lot of epic poetry. That’s how I got to that use of ‘epic’. Like a grand epic, it could have a number of short novellas in it. That’s where I saw this piece.
«I’m informed a lot of times by other disciplines, and I read a lot. Probably that’s one of the ways I got into this piece, because I was reading a lot of epic poetry. Literature, especially fiction and poetry, has a way of opening up new formats and plots».
Plata er «designed around chasing each individual instrument and each individual player — something that’s to be performed in a chamber space, you know what I’m saying? It wouldn’t come off well in just any kind of space» og fortsetter,
«Some music you can play outdoors — I would never play those pieces outdoors at a festival or something. If I even played it indoors at a club, it would have to be a certain club, because of the nature of that music.
«You can’t always play everything that’s in your repertory in all environments. It’s just not possible. Well, not the music that I write anyway! It has environmental restrictions sometimes».
I begrunnelsen for pristildelingen heter det at «In for a Penny, In for a Pound» er
– a highly original work in which notated music and improvisation mesh in a sonic tapestry that seems the very expression of modern American life
salt peanuts* gratulerer!
Sist gang prisen ble tildelt en jazzmusiker var i 2007, da Ornette Coleman fikk prisen for «Sound Grammar». Fortsatt synes det som om Duke Ellingtons beskrivelse av USAs kulturelite sin holdning til jazz fortsatt holder. I et intervju med Nat Hentoff i 1965 etter at han var blitt avvist som kandidat for dette årets Pulitzer Prize sa,
«Most Americans still take it for granted that European music – classical music, if you will – is the only really respectable kind. I remember, for example, that when Franklin Roosevelt died, practically no American music was played on the air in tribute to him.
«By and large, then as now, jazz was like the kind of man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with».
Tekst: Johan Hauknes