Richard Johnson, piano

Just Friends Jazz Series

Born in Pittsburgh, home to jazz greats Art Blakey, Ray Brown, Jeff “Tain” Watts and Ahmad Jamal, Richard Johnson has strong territorial jazz roots. He was first introduced to the piano at the age of five by his father, a gospel pianist from Baltimore, MD. Since then, he has cultivated a rich and pedigreed musical background, being schooled by some of the most legendary jazz musicians and studying at the most esteemed institutions of music. After receiving a scholarship and graduating from the Berklee School of Music in just two years, Johnson entered the Boston Conservatory where he earned a master’s degree in jazz pedagogy. He then went on to receive an artist performance diploma at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at New England Conservatory, under the direction of the influential Ron Carter.

Johnson was invited to become a member of Wynton Marsalis’s Septet and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, which he did from 2000 to 2003. He also played as part of the Russell Malone Quartet, the Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet and the Bobby Watson Quartet. After completing his tenure with those groups, he started the Reach Afar program in 2003, catering to the ages of 7–17 and educating them about jazz, classical and hip-hop music.

He has traveled extensively, sharing the gift of jazz to audiences around the world. As a representative of the United States through the U.S. State Department, Johnson was named a U.S. Musical Ambassador. During that time, he did six state-department tours that took him to Central and South America, Africa and the Middle East, affording him the opportunity to perform in more than 76 countries. He has also accompanied such jazz icons as Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Arturo Sandoval.

Johnson is an accomplished composer and arranger with four musical releases as a leader. His latest co-lead project with Gregory Generet, entitled 2 of a Kind, features a stellar jazz ensemble—Freddie Hendrix on trumpet, Jon Beshay on tenor saxophone, Barry Stephenson on bass and Henry Conerway on drums.

Richard Johnson is a Yamaha endorsed piano artist.

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