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Canadian Heritage

Jeff Johnston


JEFFREY (JEFF) JOHNSTON (pianist, composer, producer, educator) was born in 1961 in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. He studied with Kenny Wheeler, Dave Liebman, Dave Holland, and Anthony Braxton at the Banff School of Fine Arts, and privately with Toronto jazz names Don Thompson and Ted Moses, following that with studies with renowned New York pianist/composer Richard Beirach. It was in high school in Newfoundland he first began collaborating with bassist Jim Vivian and shortly thereafter, the duo expanded to include drummer Mike Billard to comprise the trio that performed around St. John’s until 1983, when the threesome relocated to Toronto where they almost immediately began gaining recognition for their unique approach to group improvisation.

Johnston has been a respected player on the Canadian jazz scene for more than twenty years, widely regarded as one of the country's finest jazz musicians. He appears regularly at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, and has performed extensively at other major festivals throughout North America and Europe including the Antibes Jazz Festival in France and Italy’s Umbria Jazz Festival. He has performed and recorded with many of the world’s best, including Kenny Wheeler, Dave Liebman, Archie Shepp, John Abercrombie, Don Alias, Shirley Eikhard, Slide Hampton, and Sonny Greenwich. Johnston has provided music for feature films, documentaries, computer games, animated shows, commercials, and video productions, works which have been heard and seen on CBC Television, CTV, Global Television, Canal D, The History Channel, PBS, TV5, ARTV, TVOntario, Radio-Canada, BRAVO!, Teletoons, and COOL-TV.

Now living in Montreal, Jeff Johnston has been in instructor of jazz piano on the faculty of McGill University since 1992.


1984 – recipient of the prestigious R. Murray Shafer Award for Composition.

Two-time Juno Awards Nominee

Two-time East Coast Music Awards Nominee


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Jeff Johnston