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 Lucien Johnson

Lucien Johnson

Lucien is a saxophonist and composer from Wellington. He originally studied jazz at the NZSM and went on to do a Masters degree in composition under John Psathas.
Lucien lived in Paris for six years from 2003 where he formed a trio with veteran American free jazz bass player Alan Silva and Japanese drummer Makoto Sato, which performed and recorded around France.
During this time, he wrote through-composed works including “To the Sea” for piano, which was premiered by Jeffrey Grice at the Salle Gaveau and subsequently toured in Europe and New Zealand.
He made music for plays and short films, and his experiences included touring India with circus ensemble “Clowns Sans Frontières” and composing and performing for a theatre show in Haiti in collaboration with voodoo drummers.
Geoff Murphy’s latest film, “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” was based on seeing Lucien’s cabaret show “The Night’s Plutonian Shore” and used his music as the soundtrack. Other television credits include the score for a TV3 documentary “Last Men Standing” and incidental music for the TV1 production “Tangiwai”.
Since returning to New Zealand in 2009, Johnson has been involved in a number of projects, notably his own groups Shogun Orchestra which has released two albums on German label Jakarta Records and The Troubles which released their eponymous CD with Rattle Records. They headlined at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival in 2014. He has also been touring extensively with acclaimed reggae band The Black Seeds in the US, Canada, Europe and throughout Australasia, performing over 200 concerts with them in the last four years.
Lucien was invited to Brazil in 2011 to perform at the Savassi Festival in Belo Horizonte with Brazilian musicians interpreting his own music.
He is a founding member of Economy Records and has been involved with many of the projects on this label including Lord Echo, with whom toured Japan in 2014, and The Yoots. He is also in demand as a session musician and has recorded and/or performed with Hollie Smith, Jonathan Crayford, Barre Phillips, Lol Coxhill, Damo Suzuki (Can), Alda Rezende and on the last album by The Phoenix Foundation.
Lucien is an artist teacher at the NZSM, teaching jazz saxophone and improvisation. He is currently working towards a Doctorate in composition.
Press
“Parlons plutôt de Lucien Johnson. Il est aussi lyrique que Trane et aussi solide que Rollins” – Jazz a Paris (“Lets talk about Lucien Johnson. He is as lyrical as Trane and as solid as Rollins”)
“a unique musical vision” – Sea of Tranquility “Evisceratingly brilliant musicianship” – Nelson Mail
“A composer and arranger of supreme skill” – Dominion Post
“A miraculous musician with a terrific creative imagination” – Radio NZ