J.J. is to trombone as John Coltrane or Charlie Parker is to saxophone. He liberated the trombone from slow improvisational style with his amazing technique and speed of thought. He's one of the greatest jazz musicians -- ever.

He is one of the greatest Jazz Trombone players of all time. Born in Indianapolis on January 22, 1924 with the name James Louis. J.J. first played the trombone when he was fourteen. His first band was the Snookum Russel's band. He was quoted as saying his influences where "Pres and Roy, then Diz and Bird" all very great Jazz players. J.J has retired from playing live.

James Louis Johnson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Indianapolis, Indiana on Sunday, February 4, 2001, at the age of 77. He had been suffering from prostate cancer and other irreversible health problems.

Johnson's musical career spanned swing, bebop, cool jazz, classical-jazz crossover, jazz-rock crossover, and went into the avant-garde.
After starting his career with Snookum Russell's "territory" swing orchestra he played with the Count Basie band, and assorted gigs with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Illinois Jacquet, Woody Herman, and Oscar Pettiford. Johnson was part of the Miles Davis Nonet, the ensemble that recorded the album The Birth of the Cool.

After taking a break to inspect blueprints for the Sperry Corporation in the early '50s, he made several recordings with trombonist Kai Winding, and the duo became known as Jay and Kai for a while. During the '60s and '70s J.J. wrote scores for film and television, including music for the movies Shaft and Cleopatra Jones, and television shows The Mod Squad, The Six Million Dollar Man, That Girl, and Starsky and Hutch.

During this time he continued to win various "Best Trombone Player" polls, despite the fact that he was no longer actively playing. Very few recordings were made during the '70s or '80s but Johnson recorded a series of critically hailed albums for Verve Records in the '90s, and played his last concert in November of 1996, at New Jersey's William Patterson College. He officially retired in 1997.

1946 Mad Bebop
1946 Jazz Quintet
1947 Afternoon at Birdland
1947 Jay and Kai {Columbia}
1947 Jay and Kai {OJC}
1947 Jay and Kai {Savoy}
1949 Jay and Kai, Vol. 3
1949 Modern Jazz Trombone Series, Vol. 1
1949 Trombone by Three
1949 Modern Jazz Trombone Series, Vol. 2
1953 The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson, Vol. 1
1953 Jay Jay Johnson All Stars
1953 The Four Trombones: The Debut Recordings
1954 Jazz Workshop, Vol. 1: Trombone Rapport
1954 A Date in New York Inner City
1954 The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson, Vol. 2B
1954 J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding, Bennie Green with...
1955 Nuf Said
1955 The Finest of J.J. Johnson
1955 Jazz Workshop, Vol. 2: Trombone Rapport
1955 The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson, Vol. 3
1955 East Coast Jazz 7
1955 Trombone for Two
1956 Jay and Kai Octet
1956 Dave Brubeck and Jay & Kai at Newport
1956 Kai + J.J.
1956 J Is for Jazz
1956 Jay and Kai Octet
1957 Live at the Café Bohemia
1957 First Place
1957 Blue Trombone
1957 Trombone Master
1957 Mr. Jay Jay Johnson: Live
1957 At the Opera House {live}
1958 J.J. in Person
1958 Dial J.J.
1959 Really Livin'
1960 Trombone and Voices
1960 J.J. Inc.
1960 The Great Kai & J. J.
1960 A Touch of Satin
1961 Perceptions
1962 Andre Previn and J.J. Johnson Play "Mack the..."
1963 J.J.'s Broadway
1964 Proof Positive
1964 Say When
1964 J.J. with Big Band
1965 Goodies
1965 Broadway Express
1966 The Total J.J. Johnson
1968 Israel
1968 Betwixt and Between
1969 Stonebone
1971 Man & Boy
1977 Yokohama Concert {live}
1979 Pinnacles
1980 Concepts in Blue
1982 Aurex Jazz Festival (1982): All Star Jam {live}
1983 We'll Be Together Again
1983 Things Are Getting Better All the Time
1988 Quintergy: Live Antilles
1988 Standards: Live at the Village
1992 Vivian
1992 Let's Hang Out
1994 Tangence
1995 J.J.!
1996 Jazz Quintets
1996 Brass Orchestra
1999 Heroes

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