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Hyde Park Jazz Festival: Darren Johnston’s Life in Time

Darren Johnston’s Life in Time performs in the Smart Museum’s courtyard as part of the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, a weekend of free performances at cultural venues across the neighborhood.

FREE, open to all.

Visit for the complete schedule, safety guidelines, and other information.

About the performers

Canadian born trumpeter/composer Darren Johnston hails from the Bay Area and currently lives in Brooklyn, but visits Chicago regularly to perform and record. This often means performing in the quartet, Life in Time, alongside local titans Geof Bradfield, Clark Sommers, and Dana Hall. Back in New York, he plays with the trio Breathing Room and the quintet Wide Awake. He’s also a member of an all-Canadian collective quartet. 

Since relocating, Johnston has played and/or recorded with Ches Smith, Dayna Stephens, Carmen Staaf, Michael Formanek, Tony Malaby, Michael Attias, Raya Brass Band, Slavic Soul Party!, The Peter Hess Quartet, Michael Vatcher, Sean Conly, and many more. He has also performed and/or recorded with luminaries such as Marshall Allen, Gerald Cleaver, Fred Frith, ROVA Sax Quartet, Ben Goldberg, Allison Miller, Mark Dresser, Myra Melford, Marcus Shelby, Pete Escovedo, Erik Jekabson’s Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, and others.

As a bandleader, Johnston’s projects have included The United Brassworkers Front, The Nice Guy Trio, The Darren Johnston Quintet, The Pipes, Broken Shadows Family Band, Trans-Global People’s Chorus, and innumerable one-offs.   

He has composed for small jazz groups, big bands, brass bands, string quartets, choirs, rock bands, and countless combinations thereof. He has also been commissioned to write for dance, dance film, theater, and video games, and by organizations including San Francisco’s De Young Museum, Intersection for the Arts, and the Yerba Buena Garden Festival. He has taught at UC Berkeley, The Jazzschool, Jazz Camp West, Sonoma State University, Cal Arts, and Stanford Jazz Workshop. 

Johnson is drawn to music that defies characterization, and he performs not only all styles of jazz but also purely improvised music, new music, and various other kinds of traditional music, including those of the Balkans, Greece, and Macedonia. He is generally open to further suggestions. 

The musicians

  • Darren Johnston – trumpet
  • Geof Bradfield – tenor saxophone
  • Clark Sommers – bass
  • Dana Hall – drums

Darren Johnston photo by Julie Caine.