The Troy Street Observer

Music for Swinging Moderns

Long before Swing Shift established him as a bandleader, and long before his clarinet skills were displayed in the revived Artie Shaw Orchestra, Dick Johnson was known for his work on alto sax. He told the world about it on March 27, 1956, when he recorded Music for Swinging Moderns for Emarcy Records.

After his wartime service in the U.S. Navy, Johnson attended the New England Conservatory for two years, and in the late 1940s leavened his swing sensibilities with a healthy helping of Bird’s bop, even playing with Charlie Parker himself in Fall River.

Music for Swinging Moderns Cover
Music for Swinging Moderns, 1956

Johnson was 27 when Charlie Spivak offered him a job in his big band’s saxophone section in 1952, and Johnson traveled with the Spivak orchestra until 1954. Then he moved up a rung on the band ladder, joining the orchestra of trombonist Buddy Morrow.

Continue Reading