Max Johnson is one of New York City's most sought after bass players. Known mostly for his work in New York's free jazz & bluegrass scenes, he has worked alongside legendary artists Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Henry Grimes, William Parker, Candido Camero and countless others. His musical career has taken him to Germany, Switzerland, England and Canada; to the stages of Lincoln Center, the Jazz Standard, Le Poisson Rouge, the United Nations and has brought him to perform at the Vision Festival, the Bern Jazz Festival, Quebec City Int'l Summer Fest, Lollapalooza, and the Zappanale festival.
Max's musical career began at age 13 when he took up the electric bass, and by age 16 had already toured the United States. In these early years, while still at High School in New Jersey, Max Johnson toured nationally and internationally with Jon Anderson (Yes), John Wetton (King Crimson), and the Butthole Surfers, while playing shows locally with Adrian Belew (King Crimson), Vernon Reid (Living Color), Andrew W.K., Ronnie Spector, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (Doobie Brothers) and a long list of others.
After High School, Max Johnson attended the New School University, where he studied with Henry Grimes, Mark Helias, Reggie Workman, Cameron Brown, Jane Ira Bloom and many other masters, while still performing professionally. It was during this time when he started composing music and leading his own groups. In his time at the school, Max made many connections, and has performed outside of the school with faculty members Diane Moser, Kirk Nurock and Bobby Sanabria.
As a professional musician, Max Johnson has worked with many of jazz's greatest names including Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Perry Robinson, Vinny Golia, Joseph Jarman, Tyshawn Sorey, Vincent Chancey, Steve Swell, Douglas Ewart, Will Connell, Kirk Knuffke, Bern Nix, Louie Belogenis, Mary Halvorson, Jemeel Moondoc, Erik Friedlander, Mark Whitecage, Elliott Sharp, Weasel Walter, Ahmed Abdullah, Warren Smith, and Butch Morris. He has also performed alongside many of his favorite bass players including Henry Grimes, William Parker, Ken Filliano & Hilliard Greene. Max Johnson performs most frequently with his trio featuring Kirk Knuffke and Ziv Ravitz who have just recorded a new album to be released soon. Max Johnson's debut album “Quartet” with Mark Whitecage, Steve Swell and Tyshawn Sorey was released on NotTwo Records in June of 2012.
"Johnson's bruising bass lines, fingered with hardness in a gloriously unamplified state, were regularly alternated with groaning, bowed stretches, establishing a sequence of percussive bullishness, entering into hovering sustain. " - Martin Longley, All About Jazz 2011