What’s Hot With Jazz Guitar: Randy Johnston

by Doc Dosco

Randy Johnston is an impressive guitarist working out of New York City. He has great melodic sense, very fluid in his playing and skillful in his approach. I first heard some cuts off his CD 'DETOUR AHEAD' on jazz radio here in Los Angeles. Since then I have purchased 3 of his CDs. I highly recommend any recordings by Randy. He is worth checking out.

Online Bio:

Electric blues meets bebop with contemporary influences. An exciting convergence of sounds that has made Randy Johnston one of the hottest jazz guitarists both in the United States and abroad.

January 2006 marked the release of “Randy Johnston Live”, a full length DVD trio recording. This comes on the heels of the audio CD “Is It You?” which was a major hit on jazz radio in 2005. His previous eight CDs “Hit and Run”,”Detour Ahead”, “Homage”, “Riding the Curve”, “Somewhere in the Night”, “In-A-Chord”, “Jubilation”, and “Walk On” have all recieved critical acclaim and commercial success. Johnston's recordings have throught the years featured an impressive array of sidemen including Grady Tate, Joey De Francesco, Benny Green, Eric Alexander, Idris Muhammad, and the legendary Johnny Griffin among others. These albums feature both original material and compositions drawn from the great American songbook as well as new interpretations of the classic jazz repertoire.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Randy Johnston moved to Richmond, Virginia when he was thirteen years old. Since arriving in New York after attending the University of Miami, Florida in the late 1970's and early 1980's he has performed and recorded with such jazz notables as Lou Donaldson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Houston Person, Etta Jones, Lionel Hampton, Jack McDuff, Warne Marsh, Lee Konitz, Tom Harrell, and Irene Reid. Randy has toured the world many times concertizing including stints in Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa.

The key to this guitarist's appeal is how successfully he has blended various inspirations to create a firey jazz/blues style that reaches both the head and heart. “My influences are a diverse group for sure” says Johnston. “Guitaristically I would say Wes Montgomey, Pat Martino, Grant Green, George Benson, Jimmy Raney, Kenny Burrell, and even B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix have played a role in my development.” Of equally profound influence have been the great horn players such as Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis and also pianists such as Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, and Wynton Kelly. Singers such as Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles in fluenced Johnston's soulful phrasing. Finally, saxophonist and producer Houton Person played a significant role as a mentor in enhancing Johnston's general musical knowlege and recording skills.

In addition to his performance and compositional talents, Randy Johnston has achieved distinction as an educator. He is currently on the jazz faculty at New York University; the State University of New York at Purchase, New York; and the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, Connecticut. His responsibilities at these institutions include teaching ensembles and master classes as well as private instruction in jazz guitar. From 1991 to 1995 Randy was on the music faculty of Long Island University. He taught at the Brooklyn

Conservatory of Music during the years 1981 through 1987 and was a teaching assistant at the University of Miami, Florida from 1980 through 1981 while he was earning his music degree. In addition to these long term academic positions, Johnston conducts clinics and seminars on his many travels throughout the United States and abroad.

Randy's website is at:


Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com, where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot with Jazz Guitar' columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc now endorses Peerless Guitars and has the website Jazz Guitar Zone to help promote Peerless jazz guitars in the US. He also endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps — great for jazz (and anything else!)

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