Personalities | J.J. Johnson | Forties | Jazz & Blues
(Trombone, arranger, composer, 1924–2001)
J.J. (James Louis) Johnson was the premier bebop trombonist. His speed of execution and fluent, highly inventive approach to both melody and rhythm essentially devised a new language for an instrument that was not obviously made to suit the wide intervals and rapid articulation of the style. He took up trombone in high school in Indianapolis, and honed his craft in swing bands before turning to bebop in the mid-1940s.
He worked with virtually all the great jazz names of the bebop era, including Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. He was part of Miles Davis’s so-called ‘Birth Of The Cool’ project in 1949–50 and the later ‘third stream’ experiments initiated by John Lewis and Gunther Schuller in the late 1950s. He co-led a very successful group with Danish trombonist Kai Winding (1954–56). He was a fine composer of film and television music as well as jazz.
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