Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b Albert J. Johnson, 14 Dec. '10, Dallas TX; d 20 Oct. '84, KC) Tenor sax, other reeds; arranger, sometime vocalist. Prolific and popular freelance musician best-known for associations with Earl Hines, but also a prime mover behind modern jazz. Brother Frederick 'Keg' (b 19 Nov. '08, Dallas; d 8 Nov. '67, Chicago) played trombone and guitar; worked with Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Fletcher Henderson, Cab Calloway '34--48, Lucky Millinder, many others; with Ray Charles '61 until his death. They were taught music by Portia Pittman, a daughter of Booker T. Washington; her son Booker Pittman (b 3 Oct. '09, Fairmont Heights MD; d 13 Oct. '69, Brazil) was also a reedman who played with Millinder, first went to Brazil '36. Budd played piano and turned pro on drums '24, tenor '26; played in territory bands, joined Armstrong '33, first worked for Hines '34 depping for Cecil Irwin, joining full-time when Irwin was killed in a crash of the Hines band's bus '35. Left to arrange for Gus Arnheim, returned to Hines as lead alto '37, worked for both Fletcher and Horace Henderson '38, back with Hines on tenor and as mus. dir. '38-- 42. Briefly with Don Redman '43, Al Sears (USO tour), Georgie Auld (as staff arranger); with Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Pettiford at the Onyx Club NYC early '44 (and often with Gillespie for several years), mus. dir. for the Billy Eckstine band.

He wrote arrangements for Woody Herman, Buddy Rich's first band and Boyd Raeburn: thus at a crucial time in the evolution of jazz he had written for Hines, Gillespie, Eckstine, Herman and Raeburn, the bands that employed all the young bop musicians, and played with all these bands except Raeburn's. In addition he helped organize the Coleman Hawkins record date incl. Gillespie early '44 that is often called the first bop session; but he rarely led his own groups and made few records of his own, hence remained underrated outside the business. In late '40s--early '50s he worked for Sy Oliver, Machito, Bennie Green, Cab Calloway, etc; was mus. dir. for Atlantic Records, had his own publishing company; wrote for and played with Benny Goodman '56--7 incl. tour of Asia; with Quincy Jones '60, Count Basie '61--2; with Hines '65, Gerald Wilson big band early '66, toured USSR with Hines small group mid-'66, also South America; etc. He played on Gil Evans's album Great Jazz Standards '59; his clarinet on Don Redman's 'Chant Of The Weed' and tenor sax on Evans's 'Theme' particularly fine. At a Hines solo recital in London mid-'70s he turned up unannounced for delightful duets. Prolific freelance recording with Frankie Laine, Buck Clayton, Jimmy Rushing, Sarah Vaughan, all on Columbia; with Rushing on RCA; Buck Clayton Jam Sessions on Chiaroscuro '74; on Master Jazz with the Earl Hines Quartet plus Rushing on Blues And Things '67 (Johnson also plays soprano) and the Roy Eldridge Sextet's The Nifty Cat '70. On Famous Door: sextet Here Swings The Judge '64 by Milt Hinton and Friends. He was mus. dir. of JPJ Quartet with bassist Bill Pemberton (b 5 March '18, Brooklyn), pianist Dill Jones (b Dillwyn Owen Jones, 19 Aug. '23, Wales), drummer Oliver Jackson (b 28 April '34, Detroit; d 29 May '94, NYC); LP Montreux '71 on Master Jazz. Albums under his own name incl. sessions with Pittman on Columbia; others on Swingville, Cadet; on Master Jazz: septet Blues A La Mode '58, Budd Johnson And The Four Brass Giants on Riverside, Colorado Jazz Party on MPS; The Old Dude And The Fundance Kid '84 on Uptown with Phil Woods.