Jeff Johnson (born in 1956) is a musician residing in Camano Island, WA. Stemming from a progressive-rock background, he works within a contemporary artistic-Christian framework, and precedes much of the New Age music to which much of his music would later be compared. He has made collaborations with various other well-known musicians, including Sandy Simpson, Brian Dunning, and Phil Keaggy. His works also include collaborations with contemporary author Stephen Lawhead.
In addition to recording, Johnson is active in the on-going Selah Service music and worship events.
Music and influences:
Jeff Johnson's first studio efforts, The Anvil Of God's Word and Please Forgive Us Lord were recorded in 1976, when he was a 'young teenager' and were never officially released on CD. After many years, they were made available on a CD entitled Early Songs as part of the ArkMusic Special Editions series.
Jeff Johnson's first studio album, Face of the Deep (1980) managed to conjure aural landscapes in the ears of his listeners with his synthesizer infused progressive rock renditions of fantasy works. The album begins with the pensive image of Rodin's The Thinker. Songs are inspired by writings such as Charles Williams' All Hallows' Eve, and by the paintings of Gauguin and Renoir's The Moulin de la Galette. Johnson completes his treatment of these aural landscapes with on-location recordings of atmospheric sounds such as rain storms and creaking gates - incorporating them into the music in an artful way (see: History - 'Ark Mobile').
On his second album, he collaborated with Sandy Simpson to record Through the Door (1982), which took up the theme of spiritual quest inspired by the novels of George MacDonald (The Golden Key). It also continued the use of synthesizers in the slightly sci-fi themed song, The Jupiter Effect. It was also on this album that Johnson first recorded his personal 'theme' - 'Someday someday' -- a song he would record in several versions throughout his discography.
Johnson continued the theme of the spiritual quest on albums such as: Fallen Splendour and Pilgrimage. Incorporating influences from several of the Inklings, including a song inspired by C.S. Lewis -- Dream of the Island (Similitudes).
Breadth of work and collaborations:
Johnsons's music has been dubbed 'intelligent pop', 'new age', and 'jazz lite' -- but he is quick to point out that his records have nothing to do with the New Age movement. "I was doing my style of music before anybody was talking about the New Age Movement."
--Bob Longman Jr
Johnson is a versatile musician, using sounds ranging from progressive rock with soaring synthesizers to acoustic Oregon double-bass and contemporary piano solos. Johnson has collaborated in a number of distinct projects over the course of his career, including: Instrumental fantasy, Celtic and sci-fi inspired works.
Although his career started with tones of pop progressive rock, his music has taken on a more serious note since. Sample any of his 50 albums that he has recorded and sold through Ark Records, and you'll hear hints of Irish folk, modern pop, jazz, mystical world music, and historical Christmas tunes. He's recorded concept albums based on Stephen Lawhead books, ancient prayers, and iconic figures. All of this variety isn't just to be clever; rather it's a celebration of the many nuances that good music can absorb.
--David Rupert (2013)
Reviewer David Rupert recounts, "Johnson produced an album of original music for Mercedes Benz, titled Rhythms of the Road. The company included a CD with every new car sold. He was contacted by a car owner who totaled her Mercedes, with Johnson's CD stuck in the player. 'She was more upset about losing her CD than losing her car'. Johnson sent her another copy."
Through his career, Johnson has collaborated with a diverse range of artists and musicians. In 1991, he played with Derri Daugherty (The Choir); jazz players David Friesen and Dave Hagelganz; rock drummer Mark Schulman; and flutist Brian Dunning on the album Great Romantics.
In 1997, working with classical singer Janet Chvatal, who performs Latin chant on the album 'Psalmus'.
In 2002, he contributed an original tune with Brian Dunning on the Gangs of New York (soundtrack), alongside artists such as Peter Gabriel.
In 2009, he contributed the track "Heaven's Door" for Eckhart Tolle's Music to Quiet the Mind.
More recently, he appeared with Phil Keaggy on the instrumental albums Frio Suite (2009), and Water Sky (2012) - chosen for the 25 Essential Echoes CDs: The Best of 2012.
There is thought and purpose behind every note here that makes you feel like you are seeing different shades of nature while floating along a river.
--Matt Crosslin, Review of Water Sky
One of the hallmarks of Jeff Johnson's work is his commitment to excellence in the various details of record production. He goes out and records environmental sounds to enhance the ambiance of recorded tracks. No aspect of production and packaging may go unexamined; from the beautiful cover artwork drawn by David & Kathy Hastings to the immaculate limited-edition packaging for Icons.
Ark Records publishes both Jeff Johnson's catalogue of albums, and those of a few musical associates.
Jeff Johnson produced music since his early teens, and started Ark Records in "a small studio in our house with a friend back in 1977" (Tigard, Oregon). Since then, Ark Records has produced and distributed over 50 albums, and gained international recognition and distribution.
Around 1998, he moved Ark Records to Camano Island, WA, where he currently resides.
The Face of the Deep (1980),
Through the Door (with Sandy Simpson) (1982),
Shadow Play (1983),
No Shadow Of Turning (1985),
Fallen Splendor (1986),
The Awakening (with Sandy Simpson) (1987),
Born Of Water (with David Friesen & Dave Hagelganz) (1987),
Why Should The Heart Not Dance? (with Sandy Simpson & Kathy McClatchey) (1988),
This Mystery I Pose (with Sandy Simpson) (1988),
Similitudes (with Dave Hagelganz) (1990),
The Tale Of Three Trees (with B. Dunning & Elizabeth Denison Martin) (1990),
Centerpoint - Poetry & Music For Christmas (with B. Dunning & Dallas McKennon) (1990),
Great Romantics (1991),
Songs from Albion (with Brian Dunning) (1992),
Songs From Albion II (with Brian Dunning) (1993),
Songs From Albion III (with Brian Dunning) (1994),
The Isle Of Dreams (1994),
Psalmus (with Janet Chvatal) (1996),
Navigatio (with Janet Chvatal) (1997),
Prayers of St. Brendan - The Journey Home (1998),
A Quiet Knowing - Canticles For The Heart (with B. Dunnig & J. Fitzpatrick) (2000),
Byzantium - The Book Of Kells & St. Aidan's Journey (with Brian Dunning) (2000),
A Quiet Knowing Christmas (with Brian Dunning & John Fitzpatrick) (2001),
The Enduring Story - A Retrospective (with Brian Dunning) (2001),
The Memory tree (2002),
Benediction (with Brian Dunning, Jozef Luptak & John Fitzpatrick) (2002),
Patrick (with Brian Dunning) (2003),
The Katurran Odyssey - A Musical Journey (with Brian Dunning) (2004),
Vespers - Light Into Light (with Janet Chvatal) (2005),
Stars In The Morning East - A Christmas Meditation (with Brian Dunning) (2005),
Music Of Celtic Legends - The Bard & The Warrior (with Brian Dunning) (2005),
King Raven EP (2006),
A Thin Silence (2006),
Standing Still (2007),
King Raven - Vols. 1-3 (with Brian Dunning)(2008),
Journey Prayers (2009),
Frio Suite (with Phil Keaggy) (2009),
WaterSky (with Phil Keaggy) (2012)