“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/improviser/composer/songwriter Darren Johnston has collaborated and recorded with an extremely diverse cross-section of artists. His interests rotate around composing instrumental music, writing songs, and performing all styles of jazz, experimental and purely improvised music, as well as traditional music of the Balkans, Greece, and Macedonia. These interests have coalesced into his primary ensemble of late, Broken Shadows, which unites musicians from all the aforementioned communities.
He has performed and/or recorded with luminaries such as ROVA Sax Quartet, Fred Frith, Myra Melford, Ben Goldberg, Matt Wilson, Mark Dresser, Marshall Allen, and many others, with a special fondness for relationships he’s forged over the years with representatives from Chicago’s incredible improvising community. Current projects in this regard include Dave Rempis (in a horn trio with Larry Ochs), and a new-born duo with percussionist/sound artist Tim Daisy.
As a composer, he has written for jazz and/or non-idiomatic improvising groups, big bands, string quartet, and even a multi-generational choir, with songs based on a collection of immigrant letters. He has written for dance companies such as Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Deborah Slater, Axis Dance, Robert Moses’ Kin, Liss Fain, and others, as well as for dance films.