Max Johnson

Composer, 2018

Harvesting the wild energy and joy of free jazz and bluegrass, bassist and composer Max Johnson approaches his music with love and authenticity. “Johnson is an intrepid composer, architect of sound and beast of the bass…” (Brad Cohan, New York City Jazz Record). Creating complex worlds of sound, Johnson challenges his listeners to engage deeply and be rewarded with a complete musical experience that is always jubilantly crafted with care and clarity.

“New York bassist Max Johnson has established himself as one of the more versatile figures in jazz and improvised music, a leader with a strong, woody tone who shows himself capable whether playing tunes with a swinging drive or exploring abstract terrain with a texture-oriented approach.” (Peter Margasak, The Chicago Reader)  As an improvising bassist, Max Johnson has worked with legendary figures of the music such as John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, Mary Halvorson, Nels Cline, among others. With a non-stop touring schedule at top festivals and performing arts centers such as Lincoln Center, the United Nations, Lollapalooza, Bern Jazz Festival, Quebec City Festival, Max also has a prolific recording history, having released nine albums under his own name, and has played on over thirty records. In 2012 and 2014 was voted No.2 Bassist of the Year and No. 5 Musician of the Year in El Intruso’s International Critics Poll.

“The deep, rattling sound that Max Johnson elicits from an upright bass is more than a calling card…” (Nate Chinen, The New York Times)  The boundless momentum and big sound that Max Johnson creates on the double bass have propelled him to become first-call bass player in the Bluegrass community. He has performed with some of the most legendary names in bluegrass, including David Grisman, Sam Bush, Chris Thile, the Travelin McCourys, Darol Anger, and currently tours full time with 2017 IBMA Guitar Player of the Year: Molly Tuttle. His individual style on the double bass has brought him to perform at some of the top festivals in the country including Delfest, Rockygrass, Greyfox, Old Settler’s Music Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, Fayetteville Roots Festival, Strawberry Music Festival, and the 3 Sisters Music Festival.

“Max Johnson is one of the most prolific and versatile musician/composers in music today” (Brad Cohan, New York City Jazz Record). Whether composing chamber music for Mivos Quartet, janus trio, ECCE Ensemble, members of Bang on a Can, Talea Ensemble, or one of his own groups, Max creates music that colorful, clear, and full of character. He has received commissions from the University of Glasgow and the Steven R. Gerber Trust, his compositions have been performed across the United States and Europe, and featured on eight albums.  Max Johnson holds a Masters Degree in Composition from the Vermont College of Fine Arts where he studied with Jonathan Bailey Holland and John Mallia, and has studied privately with Eric Wubbels and Kirk Nurock.

Max Johnson – I Have Heard The Chimes At Midnight
for trumpet, horn, trombone, piano