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Don Preston at
Knuckleheads Saloon in
Kansas City, Missouri
August 2, 2012
September 21, 1932 |
|Occupations||Band leader, session musician|
|Instruments||Piano, keyboards, Moog synthesizer|
|Associated acts||Frank Zappa, The Mothers of Invention|
Preston later did a stint in the army, serving in Trieste, Italy. Upon his return to Detroit during the early '50s, Preston associated with pianist Tommy Flanagan. He also sat in with Elvin Jones and others at the city's West End Cafe where Yusef Lateef conducted twice-a-week jam sessions with Milt Jackson's brother, bassist Alvin Jackson.
Preston had a long collaboration with Frank Zappa as the keyboardist of the original Mothers of Invention. Preston performed and recorded with Zappa until 1974. During that time he was music director for Meredith Monk (with whom he had previously shared a house) and started recording and performing electronic music.
He is a co-founder of the Grandmothers and is still active with the band, completing an extensive tour in 2000 and later tours through 2011.
From his Cryptogramophone Records biography: "Often compared to Cecil Taylor for his style of attacking the keys with intense passion, Preston’s solos also reflect intellect, technical skills and a storyteller's way with a line. His playing, like his compositions, ranges across panoramas of mood and emotion, all colored with the freedom that comes from possessing remarkable facility.
Preston has played and recorded with the likes of John Lennon, Peter Erskine and John Carter. He also has scored more than 20 feature film scores and 14 plays. He's the winner of numerous awards, and has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and London Philharmonic. Known to jazz and keyboard aficionados for his pioneering contributions in the use of synthesizers and piano, legendary clarinetist and composer John Carter dubbed Don Preston the "father of modern synthesis."
Don has performed with artists like: Frank Zappa, Lou Rawls, Al Jarreau, Nat King Cole, Billy Daniels, Johnnie Ray, Vaughn Monroe, Connie Francis, Herbie Mann, Elvin Jones, Charlie Haden, Art Davis, Paul Bley, Carla Bley, Joe Beck, Shorty Rogers, Leo Sayer, Charles Lloyd, Nelson Riddle, J.R. Monterose, Flo & Eddie (Howard Kaylan & Mark Volman of The Turtles) Yusef Lateef, Don Ellis, Meredith Monk, Bobby Bradford, Michael Mantler, John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Don Preston is no relation to the Don Preston who played lead guitar for Joe Cocker and Leon Russell in the 1970s. However, the former has admitted to accidentally receiving and unwittingly cashing a royalty check intended for the latter some years ago.
In 2002, Don Preston joined forces with Frank Zappa alumni Roy Estrada and Napoleon Murphy Brock, along with guitarist Ken Rosser, and drummer/percussionist Christopher Garcia to form the Grande Mothers Re:Invented.
Since then they have performed at numerous concerts and festivals throughout America, Canada and Europe, including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Germany, Holland, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland. (In 2005, guitarist, Miroslav Tadic replaced Ken Rosser in the lineup.) Guitarist/Bassist Robbie "Seahag" Mangano has filled in for Miroslav Tadic on Grande Mothers tours in 2009 and 2010. In 2011 Roy Estrada retired from the music business due to health problems and Tom Fowler is scheduled to replace Roy. Recently Preston has lectured at Cornell, Harvard, Yale, Sarah Laurence, University of Arizona and the University of Belfast.
In 2010 Preston, together with his lifelong companion Bunk Gardner, started a collaboration with guitar player/composer Jon Larsen and Zonic Entertainment. The first recordings were an audio-autobiographical production, The Don Preston Story, followed by the electronic music, contemporary space drama Colliding Galaxies. At this time Preston and Bunk Gardner began touring as the Don & Bunk Show and have two tours under their belt in the eastern part of the US.
- 1992: Dom De Wilde speaks interview
- 1993: Vile Foamy Ectoplasm jazz, rock electronic
- 1994: Who Could Imagine Grandmothers
- 1997: Hear Me Out solo piano
- 2001: Io Landscapes experimental/electronic
- 2001: Corpus Transfixum software photo album w/music
- 2001: Music from Blood Diner & other films filmscores
- 2001: Transformation jazz trio
- 2002: Transcendence meditation
- 2004: Aysymetrical Construct exper. jazz Bobby Bradford/Elliott Levin
- 2005: Tetragrammaton experimental Akashic Ensemble
- 2009: 26 Pieces For Piano & Violin with Harry Scorzo
- 2010: Colliding Galaxys (Zonic Entertainment)
- 2011: Escape From 12/2012 Electronic music with percussion/Andrea Centazzo
As an actor Don Preston has been in:
- 1944: Forbidden Island
- 1969: Ogo Moto
- 1970: 200 Motels
- 1971: Wraith In The Photograph
- 1974: Sinister Flesh
- 2001: Transformation - Don Preston
As Don Preston's The Akashic Ensemble
- 1967: Absolutely Free
- 1968: We're Only In It For The Money
- 1968: Cruising with Ruben & the Jets
- 1969: Mothermania
- 1969: Uncle Meat
- 1970: Burnt Weeny Sandwich
- 1970: Weasels Ripped My Flesh
- 1971: Fillmore East - June 1971
- 1972: Just Another Band From L.A.
- 1972: Waka/Jawaka
- 1972: The Grand Wazoo
- 1974: Roxy & Elsewhere
- 1985: The Old Masters Box One Mystery Disc
- 1986: The Old Masters Box Two Mystery Disc
- 1988: You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Sampler
- 1988: You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1
- 1989: You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3
- 1991: You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4
- 1992: You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 5
- 1992: You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6
- 1992: Playground Psychotics
- 1993: Ahead Of Their Time
- 1996: The Lost Episodes
- 2004: QuAUDIOPHILIAc
- 1991: Beat the Boots: The Ark
- 1991: Beat the Boots: Unmitigated Audacity
- 1991: Beat the Boots: 'Tis The Season To Be Jelly
- 1992: Beat the Boots II: Electric Aunt Jemima
- 1992: Beat the Boots II: Swiss Cheese / Fire!
- 1992: Beat the Boots II: Our Man In Nirvana
With The Grandmothers
- 1981: The Grandmothers
- 1982: Looking Up Granny's Dress
- 1983: Fan Club Talk Lp
- 1994: Who Could Imagine
- 2001: Eating The Astoria
- 2001: 20 Year Anthology of the Grandmothers
- 2001: The Eternal Question
- 2003: A Grande Mothers Night At The Gewandhaus with Napoleon Murphy Brock and Roy Estrada
Other people's albums
- 1969: Trout Mask Replica - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band
- 1969: Permanent Damage - The GTOs
- 1971: The Visit - Bob Smith
- 1971: Escalator Over The Hill - Carla Bley/Paul Haines
- 1972: Some Time in New York City - John Lennon
- 1972: The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie - Flo & Eddie
- 1972: Geronimo Black - Geronimo Black
- 1974: Satin Doll - Bobbi Humphrey
- 1979: Eskimo - The Residents
- 19??: Versions - Robby Krieger
- 19??: Robby Krieger - Robby Krieger
- 1979: Apocalypse Now - Soundtrack
- 1982: "Music from the 21st Century" - electronic music compilation
- 1985: Alien - Michael Mantler
- 1987: Dance Of The Love Ghost - John Carter
- 1987: Live - Michael Mantler/Nick Mason
- 1988: Shadows On A Wall - John Carter
- 1989: Comin' On - Bobby Bradford/John Carter Quintet
- 1988: Shadows On A Wall - John Carter/Bobby Bradford
- 1989: Ivo - John Patitucci/Peter Erskine/Airto/Ivo Pearlman
- 1989: Where Flamingos Fly - Gil Evans
- 1989: Aurora - Peter Erskine/Buell Neidlinger
- 1990: Fields - John Carter
- 1992: Jefferson Airplane Loves You - Jefferson Airplane
- 1991: Ono Box - Yoko Ono
- 1993: 10 Most Wanted - Eugene Chadbourne
- 1993: Snorks And Wheezes - Ant-Bee
- 1993: The *#!%%? of Ant-Bee - Rarities vol.3 - Ant-Bee
- 1994: The Bizarre German E.P. - Ant-Bee
- 1994: With my favorite "Vegetables" and other Bizarre music - Ant-Bee
- 1994: Locked In A Dutch Coffeeshop - Eugene Chadbourne/Jimmy Carl Black
- 1995: Who the fuck is Sandro Oliva - Sandro Oliva
- 1995: Lunar Muzik - Ant-Bee
- 1996: The School of Understanding - Michael Mantler
- 1999: God Shave The Queen - The Muffin Men
- 2003: On Time - Arthur Barrow
- 2004: Heavy Lightning - Sandro Oliva
- 2011: Beyond the holographic veil - J21
- "Don Preston 15-April-2007 interview". Archive.org. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
- Slaven, Neil (2003). Electric Don Quixote : the definitive story of Frank Zappa ([New ed.]. ed.). London: Omnibus. ISBN 9780711994362. "Don Preston went to New Your to work with Meredeth Monk's multi-media musical theater."
- "Cryptogramophone bio of Don Preston". Cryptogramophone. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- "Don Preston". United Mutations. Retrieved 2007-07-03.