Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson

Listen to the Sound clip:
No Boundries - Music in the World of Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson
by: Terrance McKnight of WQXR Radio, New York. 02/17/2015
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson seen here in the above video clip playing the Piano. Perk was one of Barbara McNair’s Musical Conductors.

Honoring Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson was an innovative American composer whose interests spanned the Worlds of Jazz, Dance, Pop, Film, Television, and Classical Music.

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson attended the High School of Music and Art in New York City and studied composition with Vittorio Giannini and Charles Mills at the Manhattan School of Music and Earl Kim at Princeton University. He was on the faculty of Brooklyn College (1959-1962) and studied conducting in the summers of 1960, 1962, and 1963 in The Netherlands with Franco Ferrara and Dean Dixon and also learned conducting in 1960 at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In 1965 Coleridge cofounded the Symphony of The New World in New York, and later became its Musical Director. He was also Music Director of Jerome Robbin’s American Theater Lab and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Coleridge composed a ballet for Ailey entitled “For Bird, With Love” inspired by the Music of Jazz Great Charlie Parker. Coleridge Perkinson wrote a great deal of Classical Music, but was equally well-versed in Jazz and Popular Music. In 1969 he once again proved his Musical Talents as Pianist and Musical Director for “The Barbara McNair Show” and became a fond lifetime friend of Barbara.

Miss McNair nick named him “Perk” and often was amazed at his abilities as she sang solo facing him as he played the piano in a brilliant manner. Perk also served as pianist for drummer Max Roach’s Quartet and wrote many arrangements for Roach, Marvin Gaye, and Harry Belafonte. He also composed and conducted music for films including “A Warm December” starring Sidney Poitier, “If He Hollers, Let Him Go!” starring Barbara McNair and the documentary “Montgomery to Memphis” about Martin Luther King.

On March 9th, 2004, Barbara McNair flew from Los Angeles to Chicago in order to see Coleridge, on his final day in the Hospital. When Barbara arrived at my home, Barbara immediately called to see what the status of Perk was, but he had just passed away.

In honor of Perk, we performed in a private Jazz show. Barbara did not attend his service, as she wanted to remember her lifetime friend the way they were.

She had told me that “One of the Greatest Music Composers of our century has now passed”.

I remember them working together on The Barbara McNair Show, as a child I also have fond memories of him, as he use to show me his methods on the piano during set breaks.

We have even remastered and created a CD “If He Hollars, Let Him Go!” in honor of Barbara & Perk.

John Thomas

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