Julian Priester is the most distinctive solo voice on the trombone today. Enhancing the colors and textures of his instrument with varied timbre and definitive style, he truly plays music his way.
Julian has a career that spans 5 decades, and he has been part of some of the most groundbreaking and important contemporary music to date. Born in Chicago on June 29, 1935, Julian Priester started out playing in the city's thriving blues and R&B scene, playing with artists like Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Lionel Hampton and Dinah Washington, as well as with Sun Ra's early groups in the mid 50's. Priester moved to New York in 1958. As a sideman on many Blue Note recordings, as well as in many other contexts, Julian worked with notables such as Max Roach, Ray Charles, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner and Art Blakey. It was also around this time (1960) that Julian recorded his first two records as a leader: Keep Swingin', and Spiritsville. Always involved with adventurous, boundary pushing music, Julian also worked with Sam Rivers and played in John Coltrane's Africa/Brass ensemble. Julian continued strongly into the 70's, playing in Duke Ellington's Big Band and with Herbie Hancock's Sextet, his most high-profile gig. In 1973, Julian moved to San Francisco and recorded two more records as a leader for ECM, 1974's Love, Love and 1977's Polarization. In the '80s, Julian joined Dave Holland's acclaimed quintet, with whom he recorded 2 records and toured extensively. In the 90's, Julian continued to be a vital voice in jazz music. He continued to work with Dave Holland, and toured with Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, worked and recorded with Wayne Horvitz's 4+1 ensemble, Jane Ira Bloom, Jerry Granelli, and Reggie Workman. Julian also co-led (with Sam Rivers) another session of his own, titled Hints on Light and Shadow.
Today, with a new CD (Julian Priester - In Deep End Dance - Conduit Records) and as the leader of a new quartet filled with overwhelming young talent, Julian continues to push forward. His new group features Dawn Clement on piano, Byron Vannoy on Drums and Geoff Harper on Bass. The sound of the quartet comes from the loose and adventuresome spirit of the players, who are always listening and never afraid to let go. This open approach to playing is evident on Julian's new release, In Deep End Dance, his first release as a leader in over 25 years. The music on this new CD is heartfelt and intensely emotional. It comes from Julian's deep history with this music, and shows a perspective on music that can only come from someone with Julian's vast experience. Adding to the spiritual weight of the record is Julian's appreciation for his second chance at life and at music that he was given by the organ transplant he received in March of 2000.
James Bennington was born in Columbus, Ohio, May 22, 1970. He was raised in Detroit, Michigan until age nine when his family moved to Houston, Texas. It was there that he began music studies on clarinet, playing the instrument for three years. He switched to drums at the age of fourteen. Though largely self-taught, his education has come from concert and marching bands in Middle and High School, brief formal instruction, countless Jazz and Blues sessions, and work as a sideman and leader. Getting his start in Texas afforded Bennington the chance to play with local veterans such as Blues guitar greats Kinney Abair and Little Joe Washington, saxophonists Jason Hainsworth and Terrance Tony, guitarists Susan Alcorn and Clayton Diaz, trumpeter Tex Allen, flutist Bob Chadwick, bassists David Craig and Derrick Lewis, and renowned vocalist Horace Grigsby. In addition to drummer G.T. Hogan and bassist Lawrence Evans, it was also during this period that longtime Billy Harper drummer Malcolm Pinson became a friend and mentor.
The other artists Bennington has been privileged to learn from include multi-reedist Chuck Carter, saxophonists Antoine Roney and Bert Wilson, pianist Eric Lewis, drummers Roy Haynes, Ron Enyard, James Zitro, Billy Mintz, and the legendary Elvin Jones. In fact, after several years of informal study with the former Coltrane drummer, Jimmy served as band manager and drum tech from 2000-2002 for the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine touring the U.S. and Europe.
A distinctive sound has forged opportunities for him to play and record with a diverse array of artists from the Jazz and Improvised Music communities and beyond, and include legendary clarinetist Perry Robinson, trombonists Julian Priester, Andre Hayward, and Michael Vlatkovich, saxophonists Bert Wilson, Michael T. York, Wally Shoup, John Gross, Phillip Greenlief, and Seth Paynter, trumpeters Ralph Gill, Jim Knodle, and Farnell Newton, pianists Gordon Lee, Art Resnik, and David Haney, guitarists John Stowell, Tom McNalley, and Bill Horist, violinist Tom Swafford, and bassists Ed Schuller, David Klingensmith, Danny Zanker, Michael Bisio, and Jeff Johnson.
Bennington has performed in Canada as guest artist with the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto playing with pianist Ali Berkok, guitarist Ken Aldcroft, flutist Rob Piilonen, and clarinetist Mitch Yolevsky as well as with saxophonists Bruce Freedman and Graham Ord and bassist Paul Blaney of the NOW Orchestra in Vancouver.
He has also has worked with bagpipes, folk and Mariachi musicians, DJ's, poets, tap and interpretive dancers, and has performed with Rob Scheps Salon Des Refuses Big Band as well as with a wide range of vocalists that include Stephanie Porter, Joanne Klein, Marcia Cruz, Karen Shivers, and Kuki Boatwright. A chance visit to Paris in September of 2007 provided a career highlight and the opportunity for Bennington to sit in with trumpet legend Ted Curson and renowned pianist Alain Jean Marie on the standard 'Caravan' at the Sunset Jazz Club.
Since moving to Chicago in 2006, musicians he has worked with include veteran multi-reedist Rich Corpolongo, AACM tenor saxophonist Ed House, trombonist Jeb Bishop, cornettist Josh Berman, pianists Jim Baker and Ben Boye, guitarists Dave Miller, Bill MacKay and Jason Steele, bassists Cory Biggerstaff, Dan Thatcher, Mathew Golombisky, Brian Sandstrom, and veteran electric bassist Rollo Radford of Sun Ra Arkestra fame.
In 1996, Bennington appeared on Black Entertainment Television's 'Jazz Discovery' program.
In 2005, he participated in the Leroy Vinnegar Jazz Institute's 'Great Day in Portland' photo, and was also featured in the soundtrack of Vincent O' Brien's independent film 'Scrum'. Origin Records added Bennington to their roster of artists in 2003 with his recording 'Midnight Choir', and Bennington's ThatSwan! label released 'Portraits and Silhouettes', a duet with Julian Priester that received an 'Honorable Mention' from All About Jazz New York's Best Recordings of 2007. International attention has also followed with more appearances, airplay, and favorable reviews in several publications such as All About Jazz N.Y., One Final Note, and Cadence Jazz, Blues, and Improvised Music Review. In 2007 he was added to the Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians by Lewis Porter from the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University. In February 2008, after signing with Cadence Jazz Records, Bennington will visit New York to record for the CIMP label. Future Cadence and CIMP releases will be announced in the coming months.
Based in Chicago, after long residences in Texas (1990-1998) and the West Coast (1998-2006), Bennington appears at a number of venues as a sideman or band leader with his group, Colour and Sound and performs in the U.S. with regular visits to Canada, Europe, and South America. In addition to standard music settings, Jimmy makes it a point to play at public schools, community centers, festivals, and hospitals as part of a longstanding relationship with the Children's Cancer Association. Live radio broadcasts include appearances on KBOO, KTRU, KHMD, KEXP, and WNUR.
Embracing a broad spectrum of the Jazz artform that ranges from the Great American Songbook to New Music, Improvised and otherwise, Bennington has provided and developed an inimitable musical atmosphere that showcases his collaborators creative talents and places the drum in the role of timekeeper, colorist, and conductor. Always in keeping with the traditions of Jazz, he employs strong elements of the Blues, Folk, and World music to explore, propel, cajole, and inspire both musicians and audiences alike. Whatever the context, Bennington's intent remains one of integrity and honesty of expression.
Jimmy Bennington is an experienced instructor teaching privately and in conjunction with Flatts and Sharpe Music Co. in Roger's Park, as well as a freelance writer who has been published in Modern Drummer Magazine, Jazz Profile, and Cadence Jazz and Blues Review.
Bennington performs every Sunday at the Morseland
(1218 W. Morse) in Chicago with his group Colour and
Sound often featuring Ben Boye piano and AACM tenor saxophonist Ed House.
*Jimmy's No. 43 Sun. Feb. 3, 9pm NYC w Perry Robinson, ed Schuller
*Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge
Wed. Feb. 13/20 9pm
*Leading a special Trio at The Jazz Zone in Lima, Peru
(Fri/Sat, April 11/12, 2008).
Available Recordings :
Contemplation, (1998)- A program of timeless jazz standards
and original compositions, featuring Seth Paynter and
Andre` Hayward with liner notes by Delfeayo Marsalis.
Midnight Choir,(2003)- Features Seth Paynter in trio
and quartet settings. OA2 Records 22007
Our Dialogue, Live at the Tugboat, vol.V (2004)- CD/DVD
Piano and Drums Duet with David Haney. CD Baby
Jazz Kaleidocope; Live at On The House (2005)- Solo drums
and original compositions recorded live in Seattle. CD Baby
Portraits and Silhouettes (2007)- Duo with trombonist Julian
Priester. CD Baby- 'Honorable Mention' All About Jazz NY- Best of 2007.
One Final Note review by David Dupont, July 2005
James Bennington by Chris DeLaurenti, The Stranger,
Seattle, WA, Feb 9, 2006
'Meet Drummer Jimmy Bennington' by Jack Gold,
All About Jazz, April, 2005
'Take Five with Jimmy Bennington'
All About Jazz, October 2007
Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians compiled by Lewis
Porter/ Rutgers University (2007- )
That Swan Records