Thursday, April 20, 2006

It was a bitter-sweet feeling to see this amongst this years list of Pulitzer Prize winners:

A posthumous Special Citation to American composer Thelonious Monk for a body of distinguished and innovative musical composition that has had a significant and enduring impact on the evolution of jazz.

Monk, of course is beyond reproach as one of the finest and most unique composers of the past century, and deserves any accolade that could be given him. He is also quite dead. Where was the Pulitzer committee when Monk was alive? Where were they when the New York City police department revoked his cabaret card on a trumped up narcotics charge and kept him out of the city's clubs for years? Where was the committee when Monk was written off as "too strange" for jazz, before he was chiseled into jazz's Mount Rushmore?

Amongst jazz artists who were alive when Pulitzer came knocking, Duke Ellington humbly refused the award - the same couldn't be said for Wynton Marsalis who trumpeted (no pun intended) his award from the mountaintop. With so many great composers in jazz and blues today, it high time for the Pulitzer committee to start recognizing worthy musicians while they are alive and able to appreciate the accolades. There are plenty of Halls of Fame for the honorable dead, let's honor the living while we still can. How about a Pulitzer for Sonny Rollins? Sam Rivers? B.B. King? The time is now.

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