Jazzman returns to former high school

August 29, 2008 8:04:35 AM PDT
In the early 1950s, Julian Priester learned to play the trombone at Chicago's DuSable High School. Now a famous jazz musician, Priester will perform before his home crowd this weekend at the annual jazz festival in Grant Park. ABC7's Harry Porterfield says this celebrated musician, and Chicago native, is someone you should know.

Fifty-five years ago, Julian Priester was a music student in the third floor classroom at the Chicago's DuSable High School. Today, he is celebrated as one of the top trombone players in the world of jazz.

"There are many, many memories of my days here," said Priester. "I think those memories have actually shaped my life...from that day on...to this day...and also in the future."

Priester studied with the legendary Walter Dyett, whose students included Nat "King" Cole and Dinah Washington, and at least another dozen well known musicians

Even though three generations separate them, Priester found musical common ground with the current jazz students in the same room where his career began. Zennetta Williams is a trombone student.

"I think he's a great legend in our presence someone we can all learn from," said Williams. "Learn there can be greater things and love what you do...and go on to fulfill your dreams."

David Boykin, the school's current jazz music teacher, feels visits by former students like Priester is an essential part of his students' education.

"It's most important for them to meet real performing musicians, hear the musicians playing as much as possible, and speaking to them to get their perspective and their insight and understanding," said Boykin.

Friday at 5:30 p.m., on the Grant Park Petrillo Stage, Priester will be heard performing in a tribute to Walter Dyett.

"We think it's paying homage to the great Chicago jazz history in the best way possible by having people come home, like Julian Priester, and bring all their great talent to bear and show us what they've learned and all they've contributed to the music," said Steve Salzman, Jazz Institute president.


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