Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (June 14, 1932, Manhattan, New York City or possibly (unconfirmed) Winston-Salem, North Carolina – March 9, 2004, Chicago) was an innovative American composer whose interests spanned the worlds of jazz, dance, pop, film, television, and classical music.
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson was Afro-American. He was named after Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912). Perkinson's mother was active in music and the arts as a piano teacher, church organist, and director of a theater company.
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 Perkinson cofounded the Symphony of the New World in New York. and later became its Music Director. He was also Music Director of Jerome Robbins's American Theater Lab and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Perkinson composed a ballet for Ailey entitled For Bird, With Love inspired by the music of jazz great Charlie Parker.
Perkinson wrote a great deal of classical music, but was equally well-versed in jazz and popular music. He served briefly as pianist for drummer Max Roach’s quartet and wrote arrangements for Roach, Marvin Gaye, and Harry Belafonte. He also composed and conducted music for films including A Warm December starring Sidney Poitier and the documentary Montgomery to Memphis about Martin Luther King.
- Program notes by Gregory Weinstein for "Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (1932–2004): A CELEBRATION" (Cedille Records CDR 90000 087)
- Martin, Douglas "Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Versatile Musician, Dies at 71" New York Times (March 13, 2004)
- Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson papers, the composer's personal papers in the Music Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
- Short biography from the New York Public Library
- Photo of Perkinson at Find a Grave