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Moods: Featuring Saxophone Jazz: Jazz quartet Blues: Jazzy Blues Jazz: Bebop Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo

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United States - New Jersey Sell your music everywhere

Leo Johnson

Leo Johnson Bio


Saxophonist Leo Johnson has performed throughout Europe and the U.S. including Birdland in New York City.  He recorded and produced two CD's "Leo Johnson: It's About Time" and "Message To Mankind". 

Born in Daytona Beach, Florida in 1939, Leo’s interest in mastering his instrument and advancing his art led him to Newark, New Jersey where he took up residence in 1957. Not content to merely be just another horn player on the Newark jazz scene, Leo decided to hone his skills in a more diverse milieu and enlisted in the United States Air Force as a bandsman. 

The Air Force provided Leo with an opportunity to develop his musical talents. Not only were there other musicians with whom to exchange ideas, it also provided him with the opportunity to develop his talent for composing and arranging.  

After his stint in the Air Force, Leo returned to Newark and continued to perform and record with other notable musicians. He played and traveled for a few years with Jack McDuff’s band.  He was a member of and recorded music with other recognized artists including Chico Mendoza, Jimmy McGriff, David "Fathead" Newman, Jimmy Witherspoon and Johnny Hammond. He recorded "Live In Paris" at Club St. Germain with Rhoda Scott's Trio. 

He led his own ensembles through the poignant compositions and arrangements he authored. With an ear open to new talent, Leo has helped to develop young artists who are prominent in today’s jazz scene. Victor Jones, Terrance Blanchard, Andy McCloud, Alan Watson, Michael Clark, Ralph Peterson, the Harper Brothers, the late Woody Shaw and the late David Eubanks are some of the musicians who have participated and developed their talents within Leo’s ensemble. 

He received three individual proclamations from Mayors Kenneth Gibson and Sharpe James in recognition of his contribution to the arts in Newark, and a fourth from Sharpe James as one of Newark's "Jazz Elders." 

He was featured in the Star-Ledger by George Kanzler as one of 75 of the Garden State‘s and beyond great and most influential Jazz figures. 

He taught saxophone and directed Rutgers University Mosaic Jazz Ensemble and currently teaches music at Essex County College. He has a B.A. in Music and a M.A. in Jazz History from Rutgers University.

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