Professor Aaron Johnson on the Film Music of Hugo Friedhofer

Our guest for this episode of the Music at Pitt Podcast is Professor Aaron Johnson. Known around the department and the music world as Dr. A.J., he is an Assistant professor of Jazz Studies in Pitt’s Department of Music where he teaches courses in jazz arranging, music and race, Black music and Black radio, jazz and film, and more. 

A.J. has one of the more widely varied careers of professors you might encounter. He was involved in telecommunications research in the areas of optical fiber measurements, optical communications networks, DSL networks, and video distribution networks, all while maintaining an active career as a jazz musician in the New York. He performed with the likes of Charles Tolliver, Jimmy Heath, Frank Lacy, Steve Turre, Wallace Roney, and Aretha Franklin. He has recorded with Jay-Z, among many others.  

His interests turned toward scholarly music studies and in 2014 he completed a PhD in Music at Columbia University. He is currently working on a monograph on jazz radio in the United States and joins us today to discuss his recently published article, “The Best Years of Our Lives: Hugo Friedhofer’s American Sound” an analysis of Friedhofer’s widely acclaimed score to the 1946 film The Best Years of Our Lives.