During their 1999 Jack Straw composer residency, jazz trombonist Julian Priester composed the original work Confluence together with Ghanaian percussionist Obo Addy, combining complex African polyrhythmic patterns with contemporary melodic and harmonic concepts derived from jazz.
The residency culminated with a concert presented by Jack Straw and Earshot Jazz as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival on Monday, October 18, 1999 at On The Boards. The world premiere of this new work Obo and Julian composed together was at the heart of this concert.
Other than Confluence, the concert featured additional music written by either Obo Addy or Julian Priester, who were joined by Portland musicians Gary Harris, saxophone; Jim Cheek, trumpet; Janice Scroggins, keyboards; Israel Annoh, drums; Nii Ayi Armah, percussion; and Seattle musicians: Tim Young, acoustic & electric guitars; and Phil Sparks, acoustic bass. This concert represented an exciting opportunity to explore the musical and cultural links between African and African-American sensibilities. In the words of Julian Priester, “This musical conversation exposes the connective lineage between African percussion and jazz.”
“For Your Information,” from the Confluence concert recording:
This commission and concert was produced and presented with the gracious support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Seattle Arts Commission, the King County Arts Commission, the Washington State Arts Commission, the Corporate Council for the Arts, the Experience Music Project Foundation, and individual contributors.
Two Master Artists: A Musical Conversation Joan Rabinowitz, October 1999
“First Obo and I talked about musical form,” Julian began. “Then Obo whistled themes from songs he remembers from when he was a child.” During the past year, Ghanaian drummer Obo Addy and American jazz trombonist Julian Priester have been collaborating on a new composition commissioned by Jack Straw Productions. “My goal is to present it in a way that exposes the connecting lineage between traditional African percussion and jazz,” Julian continued. “Since we will be bridging two cultures,” Obo commented, “we will be bringing two different ways of thinking to the project. I am very excited about this project,” Obo continued. “I have always admired Julian’s work and feel that we will do great things together.”
Obo Addy is a prominent member of the Northwest African music community, and his musical background is a combination of the rigorous standards of ritual music and traditional African popular music styles he picked up in Accra, Ghana. Julian Priester has worked extensively for forty years with some of the top jazz ensembles in the country including the Max Roach Quintet, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Herbie Hancock Sextet, Sun Ra Arkestra, Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, the Dave Holland Quintet and many others.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to do a project like this,” jazz trombonist Julian Priester explained.