World-renowned jazzman Howard "Hojo" Johnson joins Fairfield University's Jazz Ensemble for winter concert December 6


Howard Johnson, a shining star in the world of jazz, appears as guest artist with the Fairfield University Jazz Ensemble, featuring Brian Torff as director, for its annual winter concert, Thursday, Dec. 6 at the Quick Center for the Arts. There are two performances at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. in the Quick Center's Wien Experimental Theatre.

Johnson, known to his public as "Hojo," is an acknowledged master of jazz tuba. Although his first instrument - self-taught when he was 13 years old - was baritone saxophone, he learned the tuba at 14 and continued his musical exploration as arranger and composer through the next 40 years. During that time he also demonstrated his extraordinary versatility as a player by learning several other reed instruments as well as electric bass guitar, flugelhorn, cornet and the penny whistle.

Since the mid-60s, Hojo has played with an all-star roster of musical legends, including Charles Mingus, Hank Crawford, Gil Evans, Miles Davis, Taj Mahal, John Lennon, Chet Baker and Quincy Jones, among others. He arranged the horn parts on The Band's "Last Waltz" and is a former bandleader on "Saturday Night Live."

The Jazz Ensemble is an accomplished group of university students who often invite notable guest artists to join them in concert. Past guests have included members of Blood, Sweat & Tears and Spyro Gyra, Blues Brothers saxophonist Lou Marini, tenor saxophonist, Joel Frahm and internationally known pianist, James Williams.

Torff, a noted bassist and composer, is Fairfield University's director of Jazz and Popular Music. He leads the ensemble, with Johnson on sax, through a program of innovative works including, "Midnight Voyage" by Joey Calderazzo, two Torff originals, "Gnarly Shred" and "They Called Her Bev" and Hank Mobley's "This I Dig of You," arranged by student Brian St. Denis.

The Fairfield University 5 O'Clock Band plays a set that includes "St. Thomas" by Sonny Rollins, "Cottontail" by Duke Ellington, "Blue Bossa" by Kenny Dorham and "Shuffle Blues" co-written by Brian St. Denis on alto sax and student guitarist, Matt Pecoraro.

Tickets are available online at www.quickcenter.com or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396. For further information, please visit www.quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 27, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 122