Alphonso Johnson is an iconic musician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania whose contributions with the electric bass set the landscape of music to come. As Weather Report’s bassist, Johnson’s warm tone and fluent chops contributed to the band’s initial breakout from avant-garde into funk fusion. His playing was featured on the songs “Mysterious Traveler”, “Scarlet Woman”, and “Cucumber Slumber” which he co-wrote. Alphonso played with the group Santana and also toured with saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist James Beard, drummer Rodney Holmes, and guitarist David Gilmore playing S.R.O. shows that stretched across Europe and Japan. Johnson has taught all over the world and in 2004 was appointed Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Southern California and Part-Time Lecturer at The California Institute of The Arts. In early 1982, Johnson joined Grateful Dead member Bob Weir’s side project Bobby and the Midnites. He would reunite with Weir in 2000, playing bass in place of Phil Lesh on tour with The Other Ones. He has also performed fusion versions of Grateful Dead songs alongside Billy Cobham in the band Jazz Is Dead. The acclaimed All-Star instrumental ensemble, famous for interpretations of classic Grateful Dead songs with jazz influences, returns in 2023 to celebrate its 25th Anniversary. Co-founder Alphonso Johnson will be joined by Steve Kimock, Pete Lavezzoli & Bobby Lee Rodgers, performing Grateful Dead’s ‘Wake of The Flood’ marking it’s 50th Anniversary, in addition to other beloved selections. Jazz Is Dead XXV ‘reunites’ two greats! Steve Kimock & Alphonso Johnson, who together in heavyweight post-Garcia Grateful Dead offshoot The Other Ones together with Bob Weir, commanded the instrumental prowess of that band.
I had the honor of catching up with Mr. Alphonso Johnson to get into the upcoming concert in Madison on January 19th at The Barrymore Theatre, as Jazz Is Dead comes to keep us company. We get into the idea behind the shows and how the music will guide the way from night to night to night. Mr. Johnson, a natural teacher describes how these 4 cooks bring their individual abilities into the kitchen and we talk a little about the feeling of getting back toGether to find his way through the music with Mr. Steve Kimock. This is one of those events where not only will the music unite, I feel it’s the connection with ALL the people that will be equally as important.