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Howard Johnson

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One of the top tuba soloists since the early '60s, Howard Johnson is a versatile instrumentalist who not only plays tuba and baritone saxophone but also boasts a competent mastery of the trumpet, pennywhistle, bass clarinet, and other reeds. The Alabama native moved to New York in 1963, where he worked with Charles Mingus, Hank Crawford, and Archie Shepp. In 1966, he started a 20-year off-and-on association with Gil Evans. Johnson's four-tuba group Substructure performed with Taj Mahal, and, in the late '70s, he formed a different tuba band called Gravity. The group didn't have the opportunity to record until 1996, when it also played at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Howard Johnson's résumé is extensive and includes recording stints with Crawford, Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, Jimmy Heath, John Lennon, Bob Moses, and George Gruntz's Concert Jazz Band. He performed with the Band during the 1970s, appearing on both Rock of Ages and The Last Waltz, and his association with Levon Helm extended into the 2000s, during which period he often toured alongside the drummer. ~ Scott Yanow

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Birth Name:

Howard Louis Johnson


07 August 1941 in Montgomery, AL

Years Active:

'60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s