Born in Pittsburgh, home to jazz greats Art Blakey, Ray Brown, Jeff “Tain” Watts and Ahmad Jamal, Richard D. Johnson has strong territorial jazz roots. He was first introduced to the piano at the age of five by his father, a gospel pianist in the church. Since then, he has cultivated a rich and pedigreed musical background being schooled by some of the most legendary jazz musicians and studying at the most esteemed institutions of music.
After graduating from the Berklee School of Music in just two years, Richard entered the Boston Conservatory where he earned a Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy. He then went on to receive an Artist Performance Diploma at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at New England Conservatory under the direction of the influential Ron Carter.
Richard was invited to become a member of Wynton Marsalis’ Septet and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, which he did from 2000-2003. He also played as part of the Russell Malone Quartet and Irvin Mayfield’s Quintet. After completing his tenure with those groups Richard started the Reach Afar program for young people ages of 7-17, educating them about elements of jazz in hip-hop.
Richard has traveled extensively, sharing the gift of jazz to audiences around the world. As a representative of the United States through the U.S. State Department, Richard was named United States Musical Ambassador. During that time he did six state department tours that took him to Central and South America and Africa affording him the opportunity to perform in more than 15 countries. Richard has also accompanied such jazz icons as Bobby Watson, Curtis Lundy, Herbie Hancock and Arturo Sandoval.