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Art Johnson

A lyrical guitarist and violinist, Art Johnson has a remarkable resume across a variety of genres. He arrived in Los Angeles in 1969 and was soon playing and recording with a new group called the Advancement, which included vibraphonist Lynn Blessing. Soon he was working with Willie Bobo, Judee Sill, Paul Horn, Tim Weisberg, Barbra Streisand, and John Klemmer, recording with the latter four. Johnson's musical experiences went way beyond jazz, including playing eccentric country tunes with Gas, Food & Lodging, being featured on violin, mandolin, and guitar with Pat Boone, touring with Tim Buckley (1974-1975), movie soundtracks, studio work, and working with Lena Horne, O.C. Smith, the San Diego Symphony, and even Engelbert Humperdinck. Johnson taught jazz guitar at San Diego State University, and has recorded duo albums with pianist Duane Smith for Mobile Fidelity (1984) and with pianist Joanne Grauer for ITI (1989). In addition to his work with other artists, he fronted his own quartet on 1997's Textures for WLW Records, and the following year on Contact, a duo recording with bassist Frederique Alarie on Fidelio Audio Canada. In 2000, he released Solo Jazz Guitar produced by Barney Kessel for DP Records Monaco, and his first two violin (electric) albums Jazz Live and Bar Talk in duet with Dwayne Smith on Rhythm Café Records. Three years later he moved to the Côte d'Azur, mixing his own life with those of the musicians of the region. He utilized his guitar with his new Cool Club Quartet to issue Django's Echo for DP Records Monaco. In 2005, his studio work with Judee Sill was released by Water Records as Dreams Come True. He also scored the film Le Voyage de Sib by Michèle Fiéloux and Jacques Lombard in 2006. In 2013, he played with Smith again on Live at the Baked Potato for ITI. Johnson is also a widely published poet and a novelist with a decidedly metaphysical slant to his work. His 2014 novel, The Devil's Violin, combined a mystery about the disappearance of Paganini's violin with a symbolist's love of arcane historical and metaphysical references. The same year he issued the standards set Blue Sud with Marc Devine, followed the next year by the solo work Classical Art, both on ITI. In 2016, Warrant Music issued a collection of previously unreleased work entitled Undiscovered Art and followed it in 2017 with an expanded reissue of Bar Talk. In 2019, he released The Art of Vibes and Violin, which featured contributions by pianist Dwayne Smith and guitarist Randy Tressler.
© Scott Yanow /TiVo


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