Ornette Coleman was presented with the Miles Davis award this afternoon at The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Alain Simard, founder and president of the Festival, presented the 79 year old musician with the award, noting that this year marked the 50th anniversary of Coleman's landmark album The Shape of Jazz to Come.
Coleman was asked about this anniversary, about the history of jazz, his influences and ambitions. He responded in long, softspoken philosophical observations about humanity, about the meaning of life, and about his relationship with his parents, who he said knew more about him than he knew about them. He said that he discovered his destiny was involved with sound, and he expressed wonder at the nature of being alive.
In closing he offered this observation:
I would like everyone to be happy and never die.
Ornette Coleman is the latest in a series of Miles Davis prizewinners. He follows McCoy Tyner (2008), Mike Stern (2007), Brad Mehldau (2006), Dave Holland (2005), Keith Jarrett (2004), Joe Zawinul (2003), Chick Corea (2002), Michael Brecker (2001), Charlie Haden (2000), Cassandra Wilson (1999), John Scofield (1998), Herbie Hancock (1997), Wayne Shorter (1996), Pat Metheny (1995) and John McLaughlin (1994).