Clarence Johnson III bio
In this time of physical distancing, we created Master Clips series to support and shine a light on some of the musicians who have been involved in various programs of Positive Vibrations Foundation over the last 10 years. These mini episodes are tailored to both aspiring musicians and curious music fans.
We begin our new Master Clips series with one of our Positive Ambassadors, Clarence Johnson III who we've had the honor of collaborating with many times since our inception.
Known for his fierce and often sultry saxophone sound and astounding virtuosity, New Orleanean Clarence Johnson III enjoys a successful career as a recording and performing artist, an educator, and also appears in films and television. Most recently, Clarence, a 2 time winner of Offbeat Magazine’s “Best of the Beat” Best Saxophonist Award, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Cultural Ambassador Heartbeat Award from Offbeat Magazine and Positive Vibrations Foundation in 2017.
Clarence is also currently celebrating the national release of his latest recording, "Watch Him Work." The new original material, which features himself and his latest creation, Cornerstone, can best be described as inspirational jazz with a fresh take on jazz fusion, which is reminiscent of the compositional styles of Stanley Clarke, George Duke, the Brecker Bros., and the Yellow Jackets.
Clarence appeared on both the 2012 recording and PBS Television documentary of Hugh Laurie’s (Dr. House) “Let Them Talk,” produced by Allen Toussaint. During his time in Atlanta GA. from 2005 to 2009, his career highlights included a stint with Jenifer Holiday and serving on the esteemed music faculties of Morehouse College and Spelman College.
Clarence’s film and television credits include various scenes with actor Jamie Fox in the award winning movie, RAY, where he is seen as a member of the Ray Charles Septet and Orchestra. He has also appeared in television commercials for the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation with Emeril Lagasse and Community Coffee.
Clarence’s bands, which have garnered such past descriptions as “Coltranesque Impressionism” and “Sun Ra Futurism”, have performed at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, French Quarter Festival, and also headlined the inaugural 1998 Yerevan International Jazz Festival in Armenia. They have also opened shows for Les McChan and Billy Cobham & Culture Mix.
Johnson has appeared on the recordings of such artists as Tori Amos (“Boys for Pele” WEA, 1996), Bruce Hornsby as part of a tribute to Keith Jarret (Long as You’re Living Yours” RCA, 2000), and Davell Crawford (“The B-3 and Me” Rounder Records, 1998).
Johnson’s resume’ also includes past work with the Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Dr. John, members of the Neville Brothers, Jimmy Smith, David “Fathead” Newman, John Scofield, and members of the Meters. Additionally he’s performed with orchestras that have backed such international acts as Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Kirk Franklin, Gladys Knight, the O’Jays, Billy Preston, and Wynton Marsalis.
As an educator with a Master of Music from the University of New Orleans and a Bachelor of Music from Loyola Univ. (N.O.L.A.), Clarence has served as a clinician at the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences “Grammy in the Schools” (New Orleans Chapter), the East Baton Rouge All Parish Jr. High Jazz Band, the St. Tammany Jr. High Honor Jazz Band, as well as The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Additionally, Clarence has also taught music courses and conducted various ensembles at Loyola Univ. (New Orleans), University Of New Orleans, Southeastern Louisiana Univ., and Delgado Community College.