Todd Johnson
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Todd Johnson


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"A Solo Offering"


A Solo Offering [Grace Base,]

Bassist: Johnson
Instrument: Yamaha RBX 6-string

Todd's uncanny ability to walk and comp simultaneously, coupled with his MIDIed B3 patch, creates a swinging accompaniment to his bop-ish blowing. His solo-guitaristic approach and re-harmonization skills find good use on "Battle Hymn of the Republic. Lush, MIDI-driven string textures also fill out this set of "jazzed-up" hymns.

Appeared in Bass Player magazine October 2002
Copyright © 2002 United Entertainment Media
All rights reserved. Used by permission. - Ed Friedland

"A Solo Offering"

On his debut outing as a leader, bassist Todd Johnson presents us with A Solo Offering, a compilation of jazz-influenced, multi-tracked bass orchestrations. By combining simple, well-known Christian-based melodies with his sophisticated knowledge of complex harmony and rhythm, Johnson has put together an intricate collection of lyrically inspired arrangements. If you can't immediately identify these titles by name, you'll surely recognize them by melody. Johnson's own unique, distinctive style which he has developed over the years as a long-time member of the critically acclaimed Ron Eschete Trio is anything but conventional. With his midi-equipped six-string Yamaha bass, Johnson is often heard laying down a bass line, comping chords, and playing melodies simultaneously. While some solo bassists may choose to record these parts individually, Johnson, in many cases, is actually assuming the roles of bassist, organist, and seasoned soloist all at the same time. Johnson covers all the instrumentation heard on this project with just his six-string bass. What is truly amazing about this recording, from a sonic perspective, is that excluding the few tracks which are arranged with percussion and string parts, Johnson was able to record multiple loops with only his six-sting bass and successfully maintain clarity throughout the entire project. Johnson's bass tone is simply pristine, his virtuoso solo explorations are to be revered, and his improvising skills are second-to-none. A complete track listing includes: "At the Cross", "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", "Mary Did You Know", "The Old Rugged Cross", "My Jesus I Love Thee", "Soon and Very Soon", "His Name is Wonderful", "Silent Night", "How Great Thou Art", "Great is Thy Faithfulness." Bottom Line: By combining years of technical innovation with imagination and a truly dedicated vision, on A Solo Offering Todd Johnson proves that there is much more to playing bass than just playing bass. To learn more about Todd Johnson and his work with the Ron Eschete Trio, be sure to visit:
- Cliff Engel

"Get Happy - Review"

This two-bass trio manages to escape the murky trap that befalls most multiple bass projects. Todd Johnson has been pushing the envelope of 6-string bass function for many years. Now, with acoustic bassist/vocalist Kristin Korb playing the bottom, he uses his Yamaha 6-string to take over the guitarist's role, playing chordal accompaniment and blowing solos. Johnson uses the relatively limited chordal range of his instrument to good effect, and his linear playing shows he's learned a trick or two from his years backing guitar master Ron Eschete. Korb's upright playing is solid and in the pocket with a beautiful organic tone. Her soloing captures the perfect balance between melodic invention and technical interest, and she sings like a swingin'angel while she plays. The tightly arranged tracks create a nice group vibe and drummer Kendall Kay provides perfect accompaniment to the songs. While there is plenty of meat here for jazz fans, the sparkling quality of Korb's vocals with the sparse texture of the 6-string chords creates perhaps the first commercially viable jazz record to feature two bassists playing together.

Appeared in Bass Player magazine January 2005
Copyright © 2005 United Entertainment Media
All rights reserved. Used by permission. - Ed Friedland - Bass Player Magazine - January 2005

"Get Happy - Review"

On their debut collaboration, highly esteemed acoustic upright bassist/vocalist Kristin Korb and 6-string electric bass pioneer Todd Johnson have released Get Happy, a trio recording comprised of twelve classic jazz standards and three original compositions. Along with drummer Kendall Kay, Korb sings and plays traditional jazz bass lines on acoustic upright while Johnson outlines the harmony with richly textured chord voicings on his Yamaha 6-string electric bass. Korb's bass lines bounce, her solos swing, and her voice sets the new standard amongst female jazz vocalists.

Not to be outdone, Johnson's sophisticated chord melodies are unrivaled amongst his contemporaries. In past performances as an integral component of the critically acclaimed Ron Escheté Trio as well as a solo bassist, Johnson has demonstrated that his innovative bass playing style is anything but traditional. Here, Johnson continues with that forward-thinking approach. Throughout this recording, Johnson's guitar-like chordal accompaniment style is reminiscent to that of the legendary jazz guitarists including Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, and Ron Escheté. Johnson's guitar-like performance is so convincing that as a listener, if you were not made aware that Johnson was not a jazz guitarist, you would never to able to decipher the difference.

The production quality of this recording is superb. Even though this project features two musicians playing low frequency instruments, the sonic spectrum is never muddied and the distinct tonal characteristics of each instrument are never sacrificed. With all the underlying positive energy heard on this entertaining project, you simply can't listen to this recording and not get happy. A complete track listing includes: "I'm Old Fashioned", "Top Of The World", "Just A Closer Walk With Thee", "If You Never Fall In Love With Me", "Moon River", "Sunshine & Slim", "Cheek To Cheek", "Wonder Why", "Get Happy", "You Don't Know What Love Is", "Goin' Home", "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To", "Everything Happens To Me", "Blues For Hellen", and "When You're Smilin'."

Bottom Line: By combining one of today's premier jazz vocalists/upright players with an inventive virtuoso 6-string electric bassist, Kristin Korb and Todd Johnson have created one of the most truly unique recordings in contemporary jazz. To learn more about The Kristin Korb/Todd Johnson Trio, go to: - Cliff Engel, - January 2005

"Technique Builders DVD - Review"

In an effort to correct the most common technique-based problems experienced amongst his students, Todd Johnson has released his second instructional DVD, Technique Builders. As an instructor, Johnson has demonstrated his concepts to students at leading musical institutions in California, during bass clinics throughout the United States, and in private lessons since the early 1990's. In this DVD, Johnson troubleshoots the problems inherent to playing the electric bass. He addresses the mechanics involved in playing the instrument in the most efficient manner possible by eliminating wasted motion and reveals how you can control the shape, attack, decay, and articulations of the notes you play.

Through an organized method, this DVD is divided into four separate sections. Following a brief introduction outlining the general purpose of the content within the DVD and the benefits of utilizing good technique, Johnson begins by discussing some of the basic and most often overlooked variables involved in playing electric bass such as the angles of the wrists, the height at which the bass is strapped on, and setting the strap at a consistent length for both standing and sitting positions.

In the second portion of his course, Johnson focuses on principles including left hand posture, finger placement, the right hand, the floating thumb concept, right hand muting technique, as well as playing with a light right hand touch and right hand placement considerations.

After establishing the fundamental guidelines contained within the first couple of segments, Johnson moves onto a series of exercises that are split into two additional sections. In the first group of exercises, Johnson discusses the significance of warming up and stretching in order to build strength, independence, and dexterity between each of the fingers. He also presents a series of exercises he calls two-finger combos, a shifting drill, a supportive fingering exercise, an exercise regarded as the x-drill, and exercises he refers to as bouncing fifths. In the last section of the DVD, Johnson outlines six more collections of exercises comprised of the spider, octaves, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and ghost notes.

As with his previous instructional DVD, Johnson's Technique Builders is extremely structured, well-produced, and provides multiple camera angles with lots of close-ups which allows you to really get inside the techniques and view his hands from different positions. Following a link specified on the DVD, you can also review several of the exercises in both standard notation and tablature by downloading supplemental PDF files from Johnson's web site.

The Bottom Line: Regardless of your current playing level, previous experience, or the style of music you prefer to play, Todd Johnson's Technique Builders will assist in establishing a solid foundation in becoming a well-rounded bassist and save you hours of frustration in not being able to play something accurately due to the lack of proper technique. It is the perfect starting place for beginners who have just picked up the electric bass and also for those self-taught bassists who are seeking to resolve bad habits that have been inadvertently formed over the years. - Cliff Engel, - April 2006


As Leader:
Walking Bass Line Module System Volume 2 DVD, Grace Base (2007)
Technique Builders DVD, Grace Base (2006)
Walking Bass Line Module System Volume 1 DVD, Grace Base (2005)
Get Happy, GraceBase (2004)
A Solo Offering, GraceBase (2002)

As Sideman:

The Ron Eschete Trio, Revjazz (2006)
Friday Nite Jam, GC (2006) DVD
Steve Trovato, About Time (2001)
Dewey Erney, Christmas time is here (2000)
Ron Escheté, Live at Rocco (2000)
Ron Escheté, The Sunset Hour (1998)
Ron Escheté, Soft Winds (1996)
Ed Roscetti, Landscapes of Christmas (1996)
Ron Escheté, Rain Or Shine (1995)
Ron Escheté,Mo' Strings Attached (1993)



Todd Johnson Bio

Todd Johnson is recognized as a pioneer of the six-string electric bass. With his Zon signature model six-string bass, Todd has developed an innovative technique where he plays chord changes and bass lines simultaneously, plus his ability to play "chord melody” gives him an uniquely rich and fuller sound that proves extremely useful in both solo and small combo work.

In his CD review, Cliff Engle of notes that "Johnson's sophisticated chord melodies are unrivaled amongst his contemporaries. (He) has demonstrated that his innovative bass playing style is anything but traditional. (His) guitar-like chordal accompaniment style is reminiscent to that of the legendary jazz guitarists including Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, and Ron Escheté. Johnson's guitar-like performance is so convincing that as a listener, if you were not made aware that Johnson was not a jazz guitarist, you would never to able to decipher the difference."

Todd has been an integral member of the critically acclaimed jazz trio of guitarist Ron Escheté since 1991. Then in 2004, Johnson also joined forces with acclaimed bassist and singer Kristin Korb to form The Kristin Korb/Todd Johnson Trio. Johnson has also performed and/or recorded with other such artists as, Mike Stern, Poncho Sanchez, Frank Potenza, Dave Weckl, Scott Henderson, Plas Johnson, Lew Tabackin, Jack Sheldon, Rufus Reid, Mundell Lowe, Michael Manring, Paul Humphrey, and Frank Gambale.

Though Johnson dedicates himself largely to performing and recording, he also teaches courses and workshops in a variety of settings. Since 1991 Johnson has served as a faculty member at such notable schools as Musicians Institute (BIT) 1991-1999, California Institute of the Arts 1998-2004, College of the Canyons 1999-2004 and The Master's College 2002 - present.

Todd is also "in demand" as a clinician having performed clinics, master classes and residencies in such places as University of North Texas, Berklee Conservatory, New Hampshire BassFest, Cornish Institute, South Western Baptist Theological Seminary, BassQuake, Pasadena Bass Day, Mile High Bass Camp, Tokyo High End Bass Show, L.A. Music Academy, The Jazz School, U of Oregon, Spokane Falls C.C, Eastern Washington University, International Society of Bassists Convention, University of Arizona, Olympic College, Academy of Contemporary Music (London), Basscool (Lille, France).

In 2005 Todd released his first instruction DVD "Walking Bass Line Module System - Volume 1 Triad Modules". In 2006 Todd released "Technique Builders" and "Walking Bass Line Module System - Volume 2 Scale Modules. Todd's DVD's have done so well that he recently signed a publishing deal with Alfred Publishing and will have his DVD's and books distributed worldwide beginning in October 2008. Look for "Walking Bass Line Module System - Volume 3” to come out in 2009. Todd will also be releasing a book and DVD set of his "chord melody" method with master teacher Jim Stinnett in the spring of 2009 entitled "Fishin' for Grips".

As a seasoned performing artist, Todd Johnson has developed a rich philosophy encompassing his spiritual, educational and achievement-oriented sides. Johnson sees his talent as a "gift from God" to continually enhance and develop. A unique musician with a unique instrument, Johnson strives to stretch the limits, creating new sounds and directions in which the electric bass can go.

"Todd Johnson has found the freedom of extra strings, and as such has developed a distinctive solo voice on his instrument..." writes Jim Fisch. Time and again, Johnson is acknowledged as unique, creative and innovative in his musical talents. He brings more than mastery to the electric bass; Todd Johnson brings a new vision of the instrument that greatly expands its musical horizon.