Around Petaluma With Jazz Musician Greg Johnson

Saxophonist Greg Johnson shares his favorite spots in Petaluma.

While saxophonist Greg Johnson has recorded with jazz greats and performed with acts from Saint Motel to Barry Manilow, these days, the artist would rather talk about closer-to-home projects. He can’t wait to get back to gigs in clubs and bookstores, where he puts out music that, as he says, satisfies the soul.

Johnson, who holds a doctorate in jazz studies from USC, is a prolific composer. At his tranquil 1920s-era Petaluma home, he can churn out compositions and practice day or night. He attributes his creative pace to growing up in a military family in Pennsylvania; the discipline translates into daily focused writing practice. Many of his compositions are written in a Big Band style similar to that of his hero, Count Basie.

“I’m interested in capturing the authentic feeling of a person who lived a long time ago. A young person who might walk into a packed concert venue and say, ‘This is my jam.’”

Johnson’s latest album, “Philosopher’s Path,” is borne of his exploration of the famed Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto. He says his own “philosopher’s way” is the walk along the Petaluma River from his home to Lucchesi Park, where he’ll play a game of tennis with a friend. “I’m getting old,” Johnson jokes, “so some days, I’ll take a scooter.”


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