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Music

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Composition Faculty

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Julian Priester

Professor

Julian Priester

Originally from Chicago, Julian Priester joined the Cornish faculty in 1979. Priester’s performing career is long and varied, beginning with stints in his teens playing with blues and R&B legends Muddy Waters, Dinah Washington, and Bo Diddley. In the early 1950s, Priester was also a member of Sun Ra’s big band, and recorded several albums with that group before leaving Chicago in 1956 to tour with vibraphonist Lionel Hampton.

Priester subsequently settled in New York, and between 1961 and 1969 appeared as a sideman on albums by Max Roach, Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Blue Mitchell, Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Charles Mingus, Johnny Griffin, and Sam Rivers. In 1969, he accepted an offer to play with Duke Ellington’s big band, then left in 1970 to join pianist Herbie Hancock’s fusion sextet.

Since settling down in Seattle in the late 1970s, Priester has continued to perform as both a bandleader and sideman including tours with Sun Ra, Gary Peacock, the Dave Holland Quintet, Lester Bowie’s New York Organ Ensemble, and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra. His compositions have been recorded by Sun Ra, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, Philly Jo Jones, Lee Morgan, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Clifford Jordan, and Dave Holland. His own music can be heard on the Riverside, ECM, and Conduit record labels.

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