Seattle's own Julian Priester named 2013 Jazz Hero

Apr 27, 2013

The Jazz Journalists Association has named Seattle's own Julian Priester as one of 25 Jazz Heroes—an honor bestowed on those who have had a significant impact on their jazz community.

Jazz Heroes are activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz who have had significant impact in their local communities. The Jazz Hero awards, for which community members nominate candidates, are presented in conjunction with the  Jazz Journalists Association’s annual Jazz Awards honoring significant achievements in jazz music and journalism.

Priester, a trombonist also known as Pepo Mtoto (“Spirit Child”), has, from the very beginning of his musical career, demonstrated Zen-like equanimity when presented with conflicts or opposites. One possible source of this balance: growing up on the South Side of Chicago with the hard-rocking blues of Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley in his head while dealing with his high school's band disciplinarian Captain Walter Dyett instructing him in a very different genre.

Or maybe it is just his calm personality, his ability to listen and absorb, and the subtlety of his expressivity— characteristics evident in his own music of the past nearly 60 years, from his first jobs in Sun Ra’s Arkestra through his retirement last year from the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.

An award presentation for Priester will be held at Tula’s at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30, which is also International Jazz Day.