Lucien Johnson is a saxophonist and composer, based in Wellington. His creative work involves composing and performing with his six piece jazz ensemble “Lucien Johnson + 5” who will release their first album on Japanese label Wonderful Noise in 2017; two albums as composer and leader of Afrofuturist ensemble Shogun Orchestra; music for solo piano, orchestral and chamber works; experimental and improvised music with some of New Zealand’s and Europe’s leading practitioners; composition for film, television, dance, theatre and installation, including regular collaborations with New Zealand dance theatre company Borderline Arts Ensemble; and recordings and performances alongside many leading New Zealand popular artists and bands.
Some of his career highlights include recording with one of the giants of experimental improvised music, Alan Silva; collaborating with Brazilian musicians for various performances in Minas Gerais including the Savassi Festival in 2016; three world tours with the Black Seeds including concerts at major European festivals such as Rock-En-Seine, Lowlands and Sziget; touring Japan and China as a member of electro artist Lord Echo; performing at the Edinburgh Festival with the Commonwealth Jazz Orchestra; having his piano pieces premiered at the Salle Gaveau in Paris; composing music for theatre ensembles including residencies in Spain, India and Haiti; and composing the music for the last feature film by New Zealand film icon, Geoff Murphy.
His recent doctoral research looks at the Ethiopian jazz of the 1960s and 70s and asks how composers and musicians approach the notion of hybridity when engaging with music from other cultures.
Johnson’s work has been regularly supported by Creative New Zealand and has also won scholarships from Victoria University, from which he holds an MMus in composition . He was formerly an artist teacher in jazz saxophone at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington.
Lucien Johnson + 5. “West of the Sun”, Wonderful Noise, 2017
Johnson, Silva, Sato. “Stinging Nettles”, Improvised Beings, 2015
Shogun Orchestra. “Black Lotus”, Economy Records 2013.
The Phoenix Foundation. ”Fandango”, Universal Music, 2013
The Troubles. “The Troubles”, Rattle Records, 2012.
Lawrence Arabia, Mike Fabulous. “Fabulous Arabia”, Economy Records, 2011
The Yoots. “Sing along with the Yoots”, Economy Records, 2010
Lord Echo, “Melodies”, Wonderful Noise, 2010
Shogun Orchestra, “Shogun Orchestra”, Economy Records, 2010, re-released by Jakarta records, 2012, vinyl
Hollie Smith, “Humour and the misfortune of others”, Soundsmith Records, 2010
Rhombus, “Rhombus”, Rhombus Music NZ, 2008
Lucien Johnson and Village of the Idiots, “The Night’s Plutonian Shore”, Explorer’s Club Recordings, 2008