AEA Sessions: Gabriel Johnson – Nature Boy

Gabriel Johnson’s dynamic trumpet solo

This AEA sessions installment is a brilliant exhibit of the expansive room sound provided by a far-off R88 and a close-up R84A. Trumpet player, Gabriel Johnson, delivers a dynamic performance of Nat King Cole’s ‘Nature Boy’ and his instrument fills the vast space with natural reverb and ambience. The R84A serves to bolster the low-end warmth of the trumpet, while the R88 captures a larger image of the instrument interacting with the room.

Watch Gabriel Johnson perform “Nature Boy”
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Behind the Scenes

  • AEA R84A - Trumpet
  • AEA R88 - Room Miking
  • RME Fireface UFX
  • Nuendo 4 @ 96k/24bit
About The Artist

Gabriel Johnson was born in Santa Clara, California in 1980 and grew up in Salinas, California. Early on, his greatest musical influence was his grandmother who always preached to him the importance of the arts and, most importantly, jazz. “She was the one who told me I really needed to go hear Dizzy play in 1989 at the Monterey Jazz Festival. It was there that I heard not only Dizzy but another of the all-time greats, Freddie Hubbard. That was about all it took for me to say, ‘this is what I want to do.’” After practicing obsessively throughout middle and high school, Gabriel attended Boston’s prestigious New England Conservatory of Music. While there he studied under the tutelage of jazz greats Steve Lacy, Danilo Perez, George Garzone, John McNeil and Bob Moses.

After completing his education in Boston, he decided to return to his California roots, only this time to Los Angeles where he has lived since 2004. Since arriving in LA, Gabriel has been very active in the studio scene, and has played or recorded with a wide variety of musicians and bands, including Blood Sweat and Tears, Gladys Knight, Steven Tyler, Leann Rimes, Trombone Shorty, David Foster, Jill Scott, Diddy, Skylar Grey, Faith Evans, Gerald Albright, Dave Koz, Johnny Mathis, Kyle Eastwood, Vince Gill, Andrea Bocelli, Chris Botti, Mindi Abair, Paula Cole, Lyle Lovett, Keb Mo, M83, B.o.B. and Burt Bacharach.

A turning point came in 2007, when Clint Eastwood called upon Gabriel to be the featured soloist with the orchestra on his Golden Globes nominated score to Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie. Eastwood, once a trumpet player himself, said that Johnson “plays like a singer.” This was a bit of a full circle moment for Johnson, since as a child he grew up not too far from Clint’s home in Carmel, California. He says, “I had heard about his love of music while I was growing up, so to be standing there playing the trumpet, his favorite instrument, on a movie he directed, with him sitting 5 feet from me in the room was exciting and humbling at the same time.” Following the success of the Changeling soundtrack, Eastwood once again called upon Johnson to be the soloist in his Nelson Mandela biopic Invictus, which was released in theaters in December of 2009.

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The AEA Sessions

AEA’s own recording series featuring our favorite artists.

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