Brian Priestley

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Brian Priestley
Brian Priestley.jpg
Background information
Birth name Brian Priestley
Born (1940-07-10) 10 July 1940 (age 74)
Origin Manchester, England
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Pianist, musical arranger
Instruments piano
Associated acts National Youth Jazz Orchestra

Brian Priestley (born 10 July 1940[1]) is an English jazz writer, pianist and arranger.


Priestley began studying music at the age of eight. In the 1960s began arranging jazz pieces for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and gained a degree in modern languages from Leeds University. In the late 1960s he began contributing to the jazz press and was responsible for entries in Jazz on Record: A Critical Guide to the First Fifty Years, 1917–67 (1968), edited by Albert McCarthy and others.

In 1970 Priestley moved to London and began working with bands led by Tony Faulkner and Alan Cohen. Priestley helped arrange Duke Ellington's "Creole Rhapsody" for Cohen in 1977 and has also worked with Digby Fairweather.

He has also done broadcasting work for the BBC (BBC Radio London and Radio 3) as well as London Jazz FM. Priestley taught jazz piano at Goldsmiths College from 1977 until 1993, and has worked for various other universities as an instructor over the years. Priestley has also authored biographies of Charles Mingus, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker, as well as the book Jazz on Record published by Elm Tree Books, a history of the recording of the musical form.

Priestley is currently living in Tralee, Ireland, where he presents a show on Radio Kerry.


  • You Taught My Heart to Sing (1994; Spirit of Jazz)
  • Love You Madly (1999; Louise Gibbs, Brian Priestley and Tony Coe)
  • Who Knows (2004)


  • Priestley. Charlie Parker, Hippocrene Books, Tunbridge Wells 1984
  • Priestley. Chasin´ the Bird – The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker, Oxford University Press 2007, ISBN 0-19-532709-8
  • Priestley. John Coltrane, Apollo Press, London 1986
  • Priestley. Mingus. A Critical Biography, Da Capo Press, New York 1985, ISBN 0-306-80217-1
  • Priestley, Digby Fairweather, Ian Carr. Jazz. The Rough Guide (The Essential Companion to Artists and Albums), ISBN 1-84353-256-5 (formerly as Jazz. The Essential Companion, Grafton Books 1988)
  • Priestley. Jazz on Record, Elm Tree Books 1988, ISBN 0-241-12440-9
  • Priestley, Dave Gelly, Paul Trynka, Tony Bacon, The Sax and Brass Book – Saxophones, Trumpets and Trombones in Jazz, Rock and Pop, Balafon Books 1998


  1. ^ Many sources list Priestley's year of birth as 1946, but this is inaccurate. See Priestley's entry in The Rough Guide to Jazz and this interview on his revised Charlie Parker study.