OCCUPATION: Trombone legend Julian Priester has worked with such artists as Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Sun Ra, and Max Roach over the years. He has taught jazz at Cornish for over 20 years.
Do you think that Seattle has enough to offer the young jazz musician?
Well, Seattle's a great place to develop. As a composer, you can work without distraction. As a performer, you can practice, you can woodshed, you can really concentrate and get the job done. As a student, you can study. It's not like Chicago and New York, where there's more of a need to get out there and absorb theater, music, dance--things like that. And there's more of a need in those cities to find something to do to refresh yourself--refresh your mind and spirit. Whereas in Seattle, it's there but it's not as intense, because you have all these other things that are just as enjoyable, and also readily available. So there's a competition between this beautiful area we live in and all it has to offer, and the arts.
Do you think that this city's audience for jazz is more sophisticated than it was, say, five or 10 years ago?
I think so. I really do. Being exposed to the young people, students, observing their growth and maturity--I honestly believe that the interest in jazz music in the Seattle community has grown. You have a lot of young people who come to jazz as if they are refreshed by it; it's new to them, whereas the older segment of the population grew up with jazz. As an artist, I'm forced to keep my ear open to newer voices, because the music is evolving all the time. As the human experience evolves and we grow as a species, we are exposed to different things. And the arts, as a mirror of that, have got to grow at the same time.
You have served on the Seattle Arts Commission. Does the city support jazz projects?
Yes they do. There is a certain hierarchy there. The symphony and the ballet--they're number one for obvious reasons. But there is some support. I would like to see more. But I have to be grateful for the support that is there, because I think without it we wouldn't see the advances that we're currently experiencing.
What do you think is exceptional about Seattle's jazz community now?
The great musicians who are here. You've got people like Floyd Standifer and Buddy Cattlet--they're precious, and just their presence and what they bring to Seattle as jazz musicians is priceless. The opportunity for Seattleites to listen to these great artists is remarkable. Then you also look at some of the contemporaries--Wayne Horvitz, Bill Frisell... it's something special.
What is your favorite jazz venue?