“Johnston explores the limits of his instrument with a hankering for originality…running away and never looking back.”
– San Francisco Bay Guardian, “Pick of the Week,” July 5-11, 2006.
“fantastic…with a big bell tone and a tart phrasing style that really cuts through.”
– Signal to Noise #48.
“a resourceful improviser who writes vivid, episodic themes.”
– Downbeat Magazine, June 2007, “25 Trumpeters for the Future.”
“Someone to watch, on trumpet of course, but as a composer and bandleader as well.”
– John Corbett, Downbeat Magazine, Aug 2009
About Darren Johnston
Since settling in San Francisco in 1997, Canada-born trumpeter/composer/songwriter Darren Johnston has collaborated and recorded with an extremely diverse cross-section of artists, yet always finds ways to be true to his own unique voice in each context. From straight-ahead jazz luminaries such as bassist/composer Marcus Shelby, to experimental icons like ROVA, Fred Frith and Myra Melford, rising star in the singer/songwriter world like Meklit Hadero, or traditional Balkan brass band giants Brass Menazeri. As a bandleader he has made his mark with the award winning The Nice Guy Trio, The Darren Johnston Quintet, the category defying Broken Shadows, and more.
Johnston was featured as one of Downbeat Magazine’s “25 Trumpeters for the Future,” and has been listed multiple times in the critic’s polls. His debut quintet recording, “The Edge of the Forest” received four stars by four very different critics in the Downbeat “Critics Polls,” and was given an honorable mention by the Village Voice for the top 10 CDs of the year. Johnston has a BA from the Cincinnati Conservatory of music, and an MFA in composition from Mills College. He has received commissions for dance companies such as Kunst-Stoff, and Robert Moses’ Kin, and AXIS Dance, presenting organizations such as Intersection for the Arts, the De Young Museum, and the Yerbas Buena Garden Festival, and his music has been used in a few independent films. His original works have been supported by the Zellerbach Family Fund, Meet the Composer, and SF Friends of Chamber Music.
In June of 2013, he will premiere his upcoming commission from the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, “Letters From Home,” developed in collaboration with choreographer Erika Chong Shuch, for which he is forming a multi-generational chorus with over eighty participants, the Trans-Global People’s Chorus. As an educator, Johnston currently teaches privately, at the Community Music Center in San Francisco’s Mission district, the Oakland School for the Arts, and as adjunct faculty at the University of California, Berkeley.