Don Preston to Tour Europe

Keyboard legend Don Preston was quite possibly the first person to add synthesis to live rock performances, taking Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention into uncharted musical territories over several tours and albums. Today, four decades after having built analog synthesizers from scratch before most people had heard of such things, Preston is a living legend and a pioneer who now tweaks synthesizers on his Apple laptop. This summer Don Preston will set off on tour of Europe with his Akashic Ensemble, including a stop at the legendary, annual Zappanale festival in Bad Doberan Germany.

Having appeared there in the past with his Grande Mothers ensemble of fellow Zappa-alumni, Preston will bring his jazz-electronica- experimental trio to the stage in August of 2007. He will also make appearances in other European cities, including Vienna.

Most people probably know Don Preston's pioneering work with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, with whom he toured and recorded over a dozen records from 1966-1974, including the critically acclaimed fan favorites We're Only In It For The Money and Roxy And Elsewhere. Previous to joining the Mothers, in 1958 Preston toured Canada playing piano for Nat King Cole, he has also played bass with Carla and Paul Bley, Elvin Jones, Yousef Lateef and Herbie Mann, who he met when they were stationed with the U.S. Army in Trieste, Italy. After the Mothers, Don embarked on a wild ride through a myriad of musical situations, which include the likes of Flo & Eddie, Leo Sayer, John Carter and The Residents.

In the early '70s Preston collaborated and played piano with Meredith Monk as part of the burgeoning New York avant garde/moderndance music/ composers nexus. Don even shocked Robert Moog, inventor of the synthesizer, with the sounds he made on Moog's own instruments! Since the rebirth of Preston's Akashic Ensemble in 2002, the group has released a CD and toured throughout the Northeast. The diverse ensemble includes Cheri Jiosne on drums, percussion, electronics and processing, and Andre' Cholmondeley (of Zappa tribute band Project/ Object) on guitar, electronics, synths and samples.

Don Preston also continues to compose and perform with the Grande Mothers, a group based around former Mothers of Invention members that Don started in the 1980s with Jimmy Carl Black and Bunk Gardner that now features Zappa-alumni Napoleon Murphy Brock and Roy Estrada. After an extended period of playing Zappa material and originals with his fellow Zappa-alumni in the Grande Mothers, Preston was ready to go on tour and play some more 'positive electronic music'. The Akashic Ensemble combines ambient moods with sampled vocals, analog tweaks and percussive loops-all with Preston's playful trademark sense of melody, dynamics and drama.

Don Preston's experience performing with everyone from Elvin Jones, Lou Rawls and Frank Zappa to Carla Bley, Meredith Monk, The Residents, Jack Bruce and Robbie Krieger provide him with a unique perspective on utilizing synthesis, musiqueconcrete and sampling in a variety of musical settings. His keyboard solos on Zappa and Michael Mantler records, as well as countless soundtracks including Apocalypse Now, are groundbreaking moments in synthesizer history. Today, Preston's stylistic range keeps expanding, currently grafting new technologies into his experimental palette with software synths, laptop recording technology and digital interactive effects. After a half-century in the music business, Preston remains as active as ever! In 2006 alone, Don did three tours with the Grande Mothers, toured throughout two continents with the Akashic Ensemble , performed upright bass for a musical in Los Angeles, held separate concerts of solo electronic music and his jazz quartet at the L.A. County Museum, and performed Stravinsky's “L'Histoire Du Soldat” in L.A. and Bergen, Norway, also with the Grande Mothers.

This year Don Preston will reach his 75th Birthday (21 SEP) and looks forward to several months of hard work composing, recording and touring to celebrate this long, ongoing life on the cutting edge of music. His performances today range from solo piano that bridges jazz, 12-tone and classical sensibilities, and hard-core experimental electronic music ranging from beats to ambience, flavored by avant- garde poly-rhythms and political satire.

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