Jazz trumpter plays around

Alex Schaaf

New York City-based jazz trumpeter Russ Johnson made his way to the Lawrence campus this past week, giving both a master class and a performance with a faculty jazz trio.
Johnson originally hails from Racine, Wis. according to Lawrence jazz faculty member Lee Tomboulian. “This is his first time at Lawrence,” said Tomboulian, a member of the faculty trio, which also includes Mark Urness and Dane Richeson, that performed with Johnson.
Johnson is an active performer in jazz and contemporary-classical circles in the U.S. and abroad. He has performed with musicians such as Lou Reed, Kenny Wheeler, Elvis Costello and Aretha Franklin.
He is also very active in the education field, serving as a clinician for many festivals around the country. According to his official website, he currently teaches at the Center for Preparatory Studies in Music at Queens College and is a faculty member at the Maine Jazz Camp.
His latest recording, “Save Big,” was recently released on the OmniTone label. The album was greeted with enthusiastic reviews. Down Beat magazine gave the recording a favorable rating, saying it was “contemporary in sound with its smart attitude.”
Johnson performed last weekend at the Jazz Estate, a club in Milwaukee, with the Lawrence jazz faculty. “There was a very enthusiastic response from the audience,” said Urness. “Russ’s music is very different from the more straight-ahead music they usually have.”
Wednesday, Jan. 10 Johnson held a master class at Lawrence to talk about and demonstrate some techniques of free improvisation. On the same evening, the trumpeter performed in Harper Hall with the faculty trio, playing, as Urness billed it, “original modern jazz compositions by Mr. Johnson.