All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Richard Leo Johnson

Richard Leo Johnson Richard Leo Johnson

The Legend of Vernon McAlister, Richard Leo Johnson's newest recording on Cuneiform, is an astonishing and magical release �” a sort of acoustic guitar equivalent to the classic Lewis Carroll novel, Alice in Wonderland. Early in the 21st C., Johnson's neighbor in Savannah, GA introduced him to a mildewed National Duolian steel-bodied guitar, dating from the early 1930s. Also called a resonator guitar because its uniquely shaped, steel body self-amplified or resonated sound, the Duolian was a mass-produced, inexpensive, and road-worthy instrument popular among blues, jazz, Hawaiian musicians who worked roadside taverns in the Depression years. Previously, Johnson had used a variety of finely-made, modern guitars �” most notably an 18-string, custom made, double-necked McCullum �” to express his fleet-fingered, idiosyncratic and highly innovative style. But as soon as he heard the Duolian, and discovered the name “Vernon McAlister” crudely scratched into its side, Johnson tumbled deep inside the resonator's web, just as Alice had fallen down the rabbit hole. The Legend of Vernon McAlister was born, resulting in an all-instrumental CD that can serve as soundtrack or ‘aural' history to a written tale (readable on It is perhaps the best and most certainly the most imaginative project that this highly imaginative guitarist has ever done.

Read more


Album Review
Read more articles
”(Johnson) developed a whole lexicon of expression on the instrument that defies conventional wisdom... It's the calling card of an intuitive genius.” --Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times

”...the most innovative guitarist since Jimi Hendrix. Johnson is a one man guitar orchestra.” --Vic Garbarini, Playboy



Who Knew Charlie Shoe?

Cuneiform Records

Album Who Knew Charlie Shoe? by Richard Leo Johnson

Who Knew Charlie Shoe?

Cuneiform Records

Album The Legend of Vernon McAlister by Richard Leo Johnson

The Legend of Vernon...

Cuneiform Records

Album Poetry of Appliance by Richard Leo Johnson

Poetry of Appliance

Cuneiform Records

Album Fingertip Ship by Richard Leo Johnson

Fingertip Ship

Metro Blue

Album Language by Richard Leo Johnson


Blue Note Records




Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.