Argentine composer, pianist and conductor Lalo Schifrin, who will be honored Tuesday by the Tulsa-based Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, has distinguished himself in jazz, classical and Latin music in a career that's spanned six decades.
Schifrin will be receiving this year's Jay McShann Lifetime Achievement Award during the hall's 2010 Induction Gala. The award is named for Muskogee native Jay “Hootie” McShann, a blues pianist strongly identified with the Kansas City jazz scene of the 1940s.
The black-tie gala will be held Tuesday, Oklahoma Statehood Day, in the Great Performance Hall, on the upper level of the Jazz Depot, 111 E First St., in Tulsa's old Union Depot Building. The event will include a 6 p.m. reception, dinner at 7 and the induction ceremony and entertainment at 8.
Schifrin is best known for his television and film scores such as “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” theme and “The Cincinnati Kid.” One of his most recognizable compositions is the distinctive theme for the TV series “Mission: Impossible,” which features an uncommon 5/4 time signature. The Buenos Aires native, who has written scores and music themes for more than 75 movies and 11 TV shows, has received four Grammy Awards and six Oscar nominations.
Schifrin, who at 78 still keeps busy recording, composing, playing at international jazz venues and conducting symphony orchestras, said he has something special planned for Tuesday's gala. “I don't want to spoil things. It's a surprise,” Schifrin said during a recent telephone interview from Los Angeles. “My wife, Donna, was born near Tulsa, so she's very excited by this honor, and I'm very touched.”
Jason McIntosh, chairman of the hall's board of directors, said the induction gala traditionally showcases some memorable music. “We leave it up to the artists,” McIntosh said Friday. “You know, horses love to run, and jazz musicians love to play — so we let them.”
Musicians set for induction into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame include Bristow native and jazz/blues vocalist Joe Lee Wilson; Tulsa bebop drummer Artt Frank; Sinatra Orchestra leader Terry Woodson; and the late mid-19th-century gospel composer Wallis Willis, who wrote such celebrated spirituals as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Roll, Jordan, Roll” and “Steal Away to Jesus.”
Other honors being presented will include the Living Legend Award to El Reno native Sam Rivers, a leader of the avant-garde and loft jazz movements of the 1960s and '70s; the Spirit of Community Excellence Award to Dr. Stephen and Ellen Adelson of Tulsa; the Legacy Tribute Award to Tulsa jazz vocalist Brenda Johnson; and the first Zelia Breaux Distinguished Jazz Educator Award to Lowell Lehman of Tulsa, a retired Northeastern State University faculty member and founder of the first jazz higher education program in Oklahoma.
Established by the state Legislature in 1988, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is dedicated to preserving jazz, blues and gospel music and honoring Oklahoma artists who have made significant contributions to those art forms.