Spring Jazz Series: Norman Johnson QuartetJune 08, 2018
Guitarist and composer, Norman Johnson was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and became interested in playing the guitar in his freshman year of high school after a friend let him borrow a recording of George Benson’s “The Other Side of Abby Road.” Norman recalls, “I was mesmerized by his sound and became addicted to the record. I decided to try learning to play the guitar but in the back of my mind I figured I was too old to start an instrument and I only was 16! I figured I had to catch up to my friends who had been playing music for much longer, so I practiced as much as I could and quickly became proficient.”
His other early influences were Wes Montgomery, Earl Klugh, and R&B groups Rufus (with Chaka Khan) and Earth, Wind and Fire. Norman’s love for playing the guitar influenced his decision to enter a music program for college. He studied at the Hartford Conservatory of Music with Bob Shaw for guitar and the Hartt School of Music taking classes with Jackie McLean and the award winning guitartist/composer Brian Keane.
Johnson’s virtuosity on the guitar led him to listen to other styles of guitar, which gives him his unique sound. “I have always had a love of the classical guitar,” said Norman. “I saw Segovia perform in the 1970s and fell in love with the voice of the nylon string guitar and have always tried to impart some of that flavor in my playing. Earl Klugh came out of this same tradition and that is the reason he has been a big influence on me.”
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