Described as a musical chameleon with wide-ranging talents, James Johnson III adapts comfortably to a variety of genres. He began his musical journey playing drums at five years old. His father, Dr. James Johnson Jr., a nationally known pianist and educator, sparked his passion for music. Precursory to his worldwide career, he attended Pittsburgh’s high school for the creative and performing arts (CAPA) where he was mentored by jazz great Roger Humphries. This laid the foundation for a stellar career that has included performing as a regular member with legendary jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal. His musical adventures have led him to play prestigious venues around the world such as North America, Europe, Africa and Japan. As a part of his portfolio he has performed with jazz masters George Coleman, James Moody, Geri Allen, Bob James, Kenny Garrett, Benny Golson, Mulgrew Miller, Bob Mintzer and Kenny Werner.
James serves as Artist in Residence at The University of Pittsburgh School of Music and is faculty at the Afro American Music Institute—a Pittsburgh institution that preserves the heritage of African American music. As a versatile percussionist, composer and producer, James maintains a diverse freelance career. Currently, he has two solo projects: Between and Full Circle.