David Brent Johnson

David Brent Johnson appears in the following:

God Is In The House: Five Sacred-Jazz Recordings

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

When jazz emerged in the early decades of the 20th century as music of liberation, entertainment and modernism, it provoked a backlash among cultural and religious-establishment figures, many of whom went so far as to suggest that it was "the music of the devil." By the middle years of the ...


Billy Strayhorn In Five Songs

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The composer Billy Strayhorn spent almost all of his adult life in the professional company of Duke Ellington, operating as a crucial but seldom visible creative partner whose own greatness has finally emerged only in the past two decades — long after his death in 1967 at age 51. The ...


The High Priestess Of Soul: Nina Simone In 5 Songs

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

There are certain figures in jazz history whose iconic status can be telegraphed by a single name: Miles. Billie. Bix. Coltrane. Though there is a deity-like ring to the stand-alone moniker, there's also a suggestion of the intense connection that these artists inspired in fans, and ...


In Memoriam: Jazz Elegies

Sunday, May 25, 2014

New Orleans may be the nominal birthplace of jazz, though it's also where a jazz tradition associated with death began: The jazz funeral, in which mourners taking a casket to the cemetery are accompanied by a band playing spirituals, hymns and dirges.

In the post-1945 era, that tradition manifested in ...


Wade In The Water: 5 Jazz Takes On Spirituals

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The African-American religious folk songs known as spirituals grew out of the slavery experience and the introduction of Christianity into slaves' lives. Though rooted in African musical tradition, they reflected life in a strange and terribly oppressive new world. Often improvisations upon older hymns, they became entirely new songs — ...


Duke Ellington: Highlights Of His Twilight

Thursday, May 23, 2013

When Duke Ellington received the news that Billy Strayhorn, his songwriting and arranging partner of 28 years, had died, Ellington reportedly cried and told a friend, "No, I'm not all right! Nothing is going to be all right now."

The cancer-stricken Strayhorn passed away on May 31, 1967, ...


The Women In Charge Of The Band

Friday, March 29, 2013

The narrative of jazz history often credits the music as a powerful, progressive force for racial integration in American culture. But what about gender equality? On that score, jazz in its first few decades would have to be given a less than stellar grade.

Jazz critic George Simon embodied the ...