This morning Chicago art gallery Corbett vs. Dempsey—which also runs a superb record label under the same name, focusing on jazz and improvisation—announced the winners of the first Instant Award in Improvised Music. The honor, which includes an unrestricted prize of $50,000, is the first of its kind celebrating improvised music.
The Instant Award is granted by a new organization called the Horse With No Name, formed specifically for that purpose by the funder of the prize (who insists on anonymity). Corbett vs. Dempsey functions as a conduit for administering the award. “The selection process is private, but involves an independent committee chosen by the patron,” says gallery co-owner John Corbett. “The aim of the prize is to award specific musicians and to support improvised music in general as an art form.”
The first two winners are Poughkeepsie multi-instrumentalist (and frequent Chicago visitor) Joe McPhee, who shows no sign of slowing down at age 78, and Baltimore pedal-steel virtuoso Susan Alcorn.