"A hurricane on sticks!"
- The Los Angeles Times
"Captivating technique and creativity"
- Modern Drummer Magazine
"He plays his ding-dong off"
- Musician/Actor/Comedian, steve allen
- DC Metro Theater Arts
Considered one of the West Coast’s most versatile drummers, the Los Angeles Times proclaimed Matt Johnson “a hurricane on sticks!” Since 2014 he has toured the US and Canada with Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress/comedienne Jane Lynch (Glee, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Best in Show), and is featured on her 2016 holiday release, A Swingin’ Little Christmas! which has broken the holiday Billboard Top-10 each year since.
Known for his traditional and modern jazz drumming expertise, Johnson is equally versed in all forms of pop drumming and has performed with a range of entertainers, from singers Julie Andrews and Andy Williams to Surf-rock pioneers Jan and Dean and big band legends Billy May and Les Brown. Johnson is the driving force behind the Atomic-Age lounge ensemble Jet Set Quintet and the contemporary organ trio 2+1B3. He is also a founding member of the Tony Guerrero Quintet.
In the spring of 2018, Johnson returned to his roots at the Disneyland Resort (where he began his professional performance career 40 years ago) where he appears weekly with the Pixarmonic Orchestra at Disney’s California Adventure.
Hailed by Modern Drummer Magazine for his “captivating technique and creativity," Johnson is also noted for talents that extend beyond drumming skills. He is also a gifted teacher who, since 1993, has worked to inspire the next generation of young drummers as part of the music faculty of Fullerton College and the Idyllwild Arts Academy’s Summer Jazz Intensive. In 2011, he oversaw the installation of an all-digital drum-set lab at Fullerton College, only the second one of its kind in the nation. Under his direction, it was further expanded in 2014 to become the largest in the country. He furthers his presence in the music education arena as a creative consultant to Forum Music Festivals – a company committed to producing positive performance and educational experiences for young musicians.
The Early Years
A veteran of the Velvet Knights Drum and Bugle Corps (’69 – ’73 and 1977), from 1979 to 1990 Matt Johnson was a full-time musician at the Disneyland Resort. Since 1986, he has been a part of a number of exceptionally creative ensembles, among them, the critically acclaimed Palm Springs Yacht Club, a musical comedy quartet delivering hot jazz from the 20’s and 30’s. In collaboration with the renowned composer and arrange, Tom Kubis, he co-created the nine-piece early-jazz show band, Swing Savant, described by the Los Angeles Times as “the Casa Loma Orchestra on acid.”
Johnson is an artist/clinician for Mapex Drums, Paiste Cymbals, Aquarian Drumheads, Roland US and Vic Firth Drumsticks.