Harlem Speaks Features Howard Johnson February 9, 2006


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Howard Johnson: February 9, 2006
Paul Robeson, Jr.: February 23, 2006

New York, NY--Multi-instrumentalist Howard Johnson, best known as a top tuba player in jazz, is the Jazz Museum in Harlem's Harlem Speaks series guest on February 9, 2006.

Born August 7, 1941, in Montgomery, Alabama, Johnson moved to Massillon, Ohio in 1944 with his family. He taught himself baritone saxophone in 1954, and learned tuba a year later. Johnson plays other reeds and trumpet as well. He recently became a resident of Harlem, but first moved to New York in 1963, where he worked with Charles Mingus (1964-1966 and 1972-1974), Hank Crawford (1965-1967), Archie Shepp (1966-1968), and Buddy Rich (1966).

He started a 20-year association with Gil Evans in 1966. In the late- '60s and early part of the'70s he worked in Los Angeles with Quincy Jones, Gerald Wilson and Oliver Nelson. From 1975-1980 he worked in the Saturday Night Live band, serving as bandleader for the last two years.

In the late '70s, he formed a tuba band called Gravity that has recorded two CDs on the Verve label. Johnson has also recorded with Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, Jimmy Heath, Bob Moses, George Gruntz's Concert Jazz Band, and frequently with Evans' orchestra, among others.

During the '90s, in addition to work with Gravity and J.J. Johnson (The Brass Orchestra in 1996), he played in Spike Lee's film soundtracks for School Daze, Mo' Better Blues Malcolm X, and Clockers.

Paul Robeson Jr. will discuss his father's legacy as an activist, actor, singer, and cultural theorist on February 23, 2006. Once the most famous black artist in America, Paul Robeson knew many of the giants of jazz, and even recorded a song with lyrics by Richard Wright about Joe Louis with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1941. With his wonderful bass voice, Paul Robeson was best known for singing Spirituals. He retired in Harlem in the early 60s.

Drummer Rudy Lawless, guest on February 26, 2006, discussed everything under the sun in a stream-of-consciousness talk that entranced the several dozen audience members who stayed rapt in their chairs (except for a swinging intermission) for over two hours. His childhood in Harlem, early friendships (indeed some neighborhood pals were in the audience and peppered Lawless with encouragement throughout), inspirations and early gigs were recounted with fervor. Lawless painted a verbal portrait of singer Betty Roche that made it all the more important that this session, like all HARLEM SPEAKS events, are videotaped and transcribed for the museum's archives. The Harlem Speaks series is produced by the Jazz Museum in Harlem's Executive Director, Loren Schoenberg, Co-Director Christian McBride, and Greg Thomas Associates. The series occurs at the offices of the Jazz Museum in Harlem, located at 104 East 126th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, from 6:30pm-8:00pm.

This discussion series is free to the public.

The Jazz Museum in Harlem
104 East 126th Street
New York, NY 10035
212 348-8300

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