Rich Johnson grew up in Duluth, MN on the shores of the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Superior, in a house filled with bluegrass and folk music. He eventually picked up his fathers neglected trumpet at age 9, after being denied his first choice – drums.
Many hours where spent with that horn. Eventually a fifth grade band solo on “Sleigh Ride” peaked with the trumpet horse-whinny-to-end-all-horse-whinnies and a seed was planted. Later, at the tender age of 15, a kindly elder alto player gave him a vinyl copy of “Bitches Brew”. His mind was blown and his fate was sealed. As he explored different musical worlds, Johnson became inspired by masters like Don Cherry, Kenneth Gaburo, Low, Bill Dixon, Fugazi and Morton Feldman, and he started to see new pathways in music.
Today, Johnson is exploring a mix of trumpet and laptop, sampling and musique concrète. Many of his pieces begin as experiments with electronic-acoustic treatments of the trumpet and a laptop running Ableton Live.
His solo pieces have garnered positive reviews from a wide range of musicians and critics. Themilkfactory.co.uk said, “a vastly eclectic and thrilling collection… Johnson has created a pretty impressive and unique record and positioned himself alongside some of the most exciting contemporary jazz musicians around in the process.”
Along with his work with solo trumpet and electronics, Johnson also contributes as a sideman to a number of projects including Opsvik & Jennings’ “A Dream I Used to Remember” (Loyal Label) and “Commuter Anthems” (Rune Grammofon).
Johnson has curated music at IBEAM Music in Brooklyn and has also served on the board of the Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT) with Dave Douglas, Taylor Ho Bynum, Stephanie Richards and Aaron Shragge.