Broadway Musician and Freelance Trumpet Player Craig Johnson is currently one of New York's most in demand freelance trumpet players. Craig Johnson regularly performs in several New York City based jazz orchestras as well as on Broadway. Craig Johnson grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana and attended The University of North Texas from 1985 - 1989, playing lead trumpet in the famed One O'Clock Lab Band his final two years at North Texas. While in Texas, Craig also played in the Dallas Jazz Orchestra and the Dallas Cowboy Band for two seasons. Craig spent a summer in the 1987 All-American College Orchestra at Disney World.
For 4 years, Craig studied trumpet with the great Don "Jake" Jacoby, and still carries Jake's influence with him. Craig also began several years of periodic study with trumpet guru Bobby Shew. Craig relates that a big debt of gratitude is owed to these two great trumpet teachers for their help and influence with his development as a trumpet player. Says Craig, "Jake's teaching was largely about using your air "it's not the most important thing, it's the ONLY thing," Jake would say. He stressed using a mass of air for volume and speed of air for register ... and also pushing students to project the sound through the horn and out in front of the horn not up for higher notes. This way of thinking seems simple, but it's amazing the power that it has. It really works.
Craig Johnson has become a much sought after side man in New York City, staying busy doing Broadway Shows, single engagements, and recording sessions. Craig is a member of several jazz orchestras, including John Fedchock's New York Big Band, The Westchester Jazz Orchestra, and Mike Holober's Gotham Jazz Orchestra . In recent years, Craig has also played or recorded with the New York Voices, the John Pizzarelli Band, the Woody Herman Jazz Orchestra, Chuck Mangione's Feels So Good Orchestra, Audra MacDonald, the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Bobby Caldwell, Chico O'Farrill, the Gene Krupa Jazz Orchestra, Paul Anka, Aretha Franklin and numerous others. Recent Broadway credits include The Producers motion picture soundtrack, Fosse, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Monty Pythons Spamalot, the Radio City Christmas Show, Elf and Sister Act.
Craig is currently playing a new custom trumpet by S.E. Shires of Hopedale, Mass. It is a lightweight model trumpet geared toward commercial playing that he and Steve Shires developed from a stock horn. Says Craig, "I wish I would have had this horn 20 years ago. It has a big, rich, vibrant sound and versatility, as well as an easy blow." For more information go to SEShires.com
Craig also plays a Yamaha Piccolo trumpet with a Monette custom piccolo mouthpiece. Craig plays a Conn Flugelhorn made by Cuesnon in the 1960's as well as a Yamaha 635S. Says Craig, "The Cuesnon is a beautifully sounding horn and the Yamaha is a bit brighter and more stable."
Craig has played Dave Monette's mouthpieces since the fall of 1989. Relates Craig, "My first tour with Maynard took the band near Chicago, and on a day off Walter White and I went to Dave's Shop for the day. We worked from scratch and carved up a new mouthpiece which became the BL-2. It was instantly great and I've played it since. It immediately made the gig much easier for me. The pitch center on Monettes is so even in all registers. A few years later we opened up the rim a touch and added more bite and that became the BL-2J Monette Model. I have several versions of the BL-2J of varying depth for use in different playing environments in both LT (lightweight for lead playing) and STC versions. I've been very fortunate to have a friend like Dave who makes incredible equipment." For more information go to Monette.net