Julian Priester (born June 29, 1935) is an American jazz trombonist. He is sometimes credited “Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto”. He has played with Sun Ra, Max Roach, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, and Herbie Hancock.
Priester attended Chicago’s DuSable High School, where he studied under Walter Dyett. In his teens he played with blues and R&B artists such as Muddy Waters, and Bo Diddley, and had the opportunity to jam with jazz players like saxophonist Sonny Stitt.
In the early 1950s, Priester was a member of Sun Ra‘s big band, recording several albums with the group before leaving Chicago in 1956 to tour with Lionel Hampton and he joined Dinah Washington in 1958. The following year he settled in New York and joined the group led by drummer Max Roachwho heard him playing on the Philly Joe Jones album, “Blues for Dracula” (1958). While playing in Roach’s group, Priester also recorded two albums as a leader, Keep Swingin’ and Spiritsville, both of which were recorded and released by Riverside (the latter by their Jazzland subsidiary) in 1960.
Priester recorded two albums with trumpeter Booker Little in 1961, Out Front and Booker Little and Friend (also known as Victory and Sorrow), the first also features Roach, and Priester took part in the sessions for John Coltrane‘s Africa/Brass album, which was recorded in the same year. He left Roach’s band during 1961, and between then and 1969 appeared as a sideman on albums led by Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Blue Mitchell, Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Johnny Griffin, and Sam Rivers. In 1969, he accepted an offer to play with Duke Ellington‘s big band, and he stayed with that ensemble for six months before leaving in 1970 to join pianist Herbie Hancock‘s fusion sextet.