J.J. is born
in Indianapolis, starts on the piano aged eleven, and three years
later starts playing the trombone.
with Snookum Russell until 1942 (fellow band member Fats
Navarro has a great impact on Johnson's playing), he plays with,
and eventually arranges for, the Benny
Carter band until 1945; after a short spell with Count
Basie he moves to New York.
Known as 'Jay
& Kai', Johnson teams up with fellow trombonist Kai Winding:
the duo is a popular success. There are occasional reunions in later
years. His arrangements for the group are sometimes ambitious, with
use of fugal episodes and other formal devices.
staff composer for MBA Music and, in 1970, settles in California to
write for TV and film. There are occasional forays back into jazz