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Herb Johnson fonds
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Commercial sound recordings

The sub-series contains audiocassettes and audio discs, including 78 rpm, 45 rpm, and 33 1/3 rpm phonograph recordings collected by Herb Johnson. The majority are 78 rpm recordings of jazz and big band performances.

Some of the 10-inch 78 rpm audio discs are in files, organized by Herb Johnson. Many of the audio discs are undated. A good number were pressed in Montreal.

Music theory and technique

The sub-series contains music scores, note book exercises and other textual items concerning music theory and technique relating to Herb Johnson.

Personal business correspondents

The sub-series contains 8 folders, chronologically arranged, of correspondence received by Herb Johnson. The documents reflect his interests, his personal and family affairs, his music business, and his involvement in musicians' union affairs.

Senior Musicians’ Association

The Senior Musicians' Association was registered with the Department of National Revenue in August 1974 to qualify as a charitable organization, and obtained its certification in January 1975. Its purpose, according to the documents: "to provide an opportunity for retired musicians to get together socially, form an orchestra and give free concerts to golden age residences, hospitals, etc." Its funding came from government grants and the musicians union through its Music Performance Trust Funds, as well as private sponsors and donors. Led by Herb Johnson, the Senior Musicians Orchestra played from 1975 through 1987.

The documents in the sub-series are primarily administrative records reflecting the formation and activity of the Association.

Herb Johnson fonds

  • P0088
  • Fonds
  • 1898-1987

The fonds consists of materials assembled by Herb Johnson. It reflects his career as a musical performer, combo and dance band/orchestra leader, and musicians' union member and executive, as well as his personal interests and personal life.

The fonds documents the dance band and jazz music scene from the 1930s through the 1980s, primarily in Montreal. It is a valuable source of documentation on the bebop style of jazz that emerged in the 1940s, and of documentation related to the Senior Musicians' Association and Orchestra.

The fonds consists of manuscript and print music, including arrangements by Herb Johnson; personal correspondence; saxophone and clarinet technique books and articles; books and articles on arranging, harmonizing, and other facets of music; photographs; notebooks; personal financial records; programs, clippings, and other memorabilia; and magazines. The fonds includes sound recordings as well as objects including music portfolios, pocket handkerchiefs, and a record carrying case. There are also union-related correspondence, financial documents, contracts and other documents related to musicians' pay and benefits, founding documents, constitutions and by-laws, questionnaires, ballot papers, agendas, minutes, and address books.

The fonds is arranged in the following series and sub-series:

P0088/1 Correspondents
P0088/1A Family and friends
P0088/1B Music colleagues
P0088/1C Personal business correspondents
P0088/2 Personal files
P0088/2A Personal interests and personal affairs
P0088/2B Music industry
P0088/2C Music technique
P0088/2D Photographs
P0088/3 Union activity
P0088/3A Musicians' Guild of Montreal
P0088/3B Senior Musicians' Association
P0088/4 Print and manuscript music
P0088/5 Technique books, manuals, tutors, methods
P0088/6 Magazines and promotional literature
P0088/7 Collection of sound recordings
P0088/7A Privately recorded sound recordings
P0088/7B Commercial sound recordings.

Johnson, Herb

Published and manuscript music

The series consists of the print and manuscript music library accumulated from various sources by Herb Johnson, as well as the hundreds of pieces of music he arranged and transcribed. The series documents Herb Johnson's professional activity as an instrumentalist; as a leader of quartets, nonettes, and other combos, as well as orchestras including the Herb Johnson Orchestra and the Senior Musicians' Orchestra; as an arranger and transcriber; and as a teacher.

The series includes lead sheets, chord charts, scores, sheet music, song books, song collections, and music folios, as well as play lists and notes. In addition to published music, the series includes manuscript music transcribed by Herb Johnson for the Louis Metcalfe International Band and other orchestras and combos, including his bebop arrangements. There are also signed manuscript arrangements by other arrangers.

Privately recorded sound recordings

Included (according to the handwritten notes) are recordings of jazz radio programs, copies of recorded music, and recordings made of the Senior Musicians Orchestra in performance.

There appear, in addition, to be copies of recordings by performers such as the Glen Miller Band, Art Morrow, Thad Jones, Oliver Nelson, and others. Some tapes include comedy routines by Redd Foxx and others.

Some of the privately recorded audio reels and audio cassettes are accompanied by notes and lists that were made by Herb Johnson. Many of these are inserted in the sound recording enclosure, but others are stored in a file folder and it may be possible to relate these to specific recordings. Most of the notes include the date of creation of the reproduction and playing times, and some include the date of the original recording session.

Family and Friends

The sub-series contains letters, cards, and other items received from (and some copies of his correspondence to) Herb Johnson's family and friends.

Music Colleagues

The sub-series contains correspondence received from friends and acquaintances in the music business.


The sub-series contains photographs related to Herb Johnson's career and family. Included are various bands and combos in which he played and some which he led, including Gurley Brothers Orchestra, Roseland Orchestra, Herb Johnson and his Orchestra, Jimmy Jones Band, Marlboro (Connecticut) Jazz Quartet, and the Earl Howard Orchestra. Featured also are such nightclubs as the Café St. Michel, Club Belmar, and the Chinese Paradise Grill. The sub-series includes autographed photographs of performers and personal photographs of Herb Johnson's family and friends. There are photographs of the Seniors Musicians Orchestra at various sites.

Music industry

The sub-series contains cards, articles, press clippings, graphic promotional material, photographs and other textual items concerning the career in the music industry of Herb Johnson.

Union activity

The Musicians' Guild of Montreal was Local 406 of the American Federation of Musicians (A.F. of M.). The Senior Musicians' Association of the Montreal Guild was officially formed in 1975.

Personal files

The series consists of materials related to Herb Johnson's ongoing professional development as a musician and his work in the music industry, as well as his other personal interests and his personal affairs.

The series includes articles on music and musicians and clippings of music scores and technical exercises clipped from Down Beat magazine and other sources, photographs, correspondence, price lists, concert and souvenir programs, notebooks, advertising sheets, contracts, lists of musicians, pamphlets, business and visiting cards, and publicity materials, as well as financial, tax, legal and other documents.

The series is arranged in the following sub-series:

P0088/2A Personal affairs and interests.
P0088/2B Music industry.
P0088/2C Music theory and technique.
P0088/2D Photographs.

Technique books, manuals, tutors, methods

In this series are music technique books, tutors, methods, and manuals. Topics covered include saxophone and clarinet performance, as well as arranging, harmony, chords, scoring, ad-libbing and improvising, sight-reading, ear training, conducting, recording and mixing, and performance of various genres such as blues and rock and roll, and others.

Collection of sound recordings

The series consists of sound recordings that were collected or made by Herb Johnson. Most are commercial recordings. There is a small number of privately maderecordings. There is a record carrying case that he used for carrying 78 rpm audio discs.

The series is arranged in two sub-series:

P0088/7A Privately recorded sound recordings
P0088/7B Commercial sound recordings.


The series reflects Herb Johnson's relationships with his extended family, friends, and fellow musicians.

The series contains letters and other correspondence received, and in a few cases sent, by Herb Johnson. It is arranged in the following sub-series:

P0088/1A Family and friends.
P0088/1B Music colleagues.
P0088/1C Personal business correspondents.