Message to Mankind
Liner Notes Leo Johnson Comes On: MESSAGE TO MANKIND (Music and Lyrics by Leo Johnson) Leo Johnson is one of the fabled jazzmen of my hometown, Newark, NJ, and like many of the fabulous players from that Raisin in the Sun, they all too often remain characters of obscure fiction, fables on the real side, lacking the recognition they deserve to enter the pantheon of more celebrated, though not more skillful, players, whose contemporaries they are. They labor in the vineyards, as it were, never or rarely being 'discovered' by the outside world of pundits and pen pushers, so their careers could fit into a larger, more celebrated frame. But the music on this CD should change that, if it is the quality of what is presented here that is judged, understood and appreciated. With this CD Leo Johnson makes his strongest bid for general recognition and acclaim. From the first sound of the beautiful horn on Dinah Washington's classic "I Want to Be Loved" any real digger will know they have an earful of mastery. A mastery hard won on the musical Battlefields playing in groups led by Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff, David "Fathead" Newman, playing everywhere from New York's Birdland to Newark's Priory. The most ambitious work on the CD is it's title "Message to Mankind", a four part work, which features the deep pulsing baritone of Bobby Porter, a voice that will put older heads in mind of the great Pancho Hagood on Miles' The Birth of The Cool, "Darn That Dream". Heard solo on the first three fourths of the "Message", Like Leo Johnson Porter is someone who needs big name exposure to properly celebrate his skills. The themes the Message to Mankind, ( actually a message to Humanity), "The Lonely Man", "The Quest for Peace", "The Little Ones" On this composition, Leo has added a string section, Jenise Reedus and Hisaichi Shimura, violins; Dave Remilis, viola; and Gerall Heiser, cello, to deepen the message. Plus the other pieces on the album are as impressive, the Afro-Cuban " Waheda", the bluesy "Slow Drag" and Duke's still stunning classic "Do Nothing Til You Hear From Me" (which Langston Hughes wanted played at his funeral). Leo has "come on" with a very solid group. McCune's "sweet" piano, bassist Lisle Atkinson, whose been around the block since the block got here, as steady as a great ship's hull, always there. Steve Philips whom we hear to great advantage rolling beneath Leo's call to self consciousness, "Song of the Elders" One way we can help Leo Johnson "Come On" is to cop (buy) this record and talk it up. Amiri Baraka 8/20/09 Message To Mankind was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement after the 1967 Newark Riots. This work is about healing and people coming together to quell violence and living in peace. If you don't have a positive attitude, you can't move forward. Message To Mankind (Lyrics) "Wake up brother man and checkout this land Get yourself together and be somebody. You and me. Working together to create harmony Children all the time scoping on our minds Trying the find the answers to face this whole world Whole world. Whole world. Bold world." *The Lonely Man was composed in Paris in 1974 while on tour with Rhoda Scott at the club Saint Germaine. The Lonely Man The lonely went away Wandering for a long time Here and there...he didn't care Searching for a way of life Free of strife A life of peace, love, and contentment There were times he encountered Bewilderment, agony, and woe Traveling down the lonesome highway Sadness in his heart, as he trotted down the road Then looking all around him He became astounded Entranced by his surroundings Nature's warmth and beauty filled his heart Full of peace and love His mind with understanding of himself and life's woes Nevermore will he go searching for What's always been inside him. Now that he's found the secret That justifies his inner self for existence Now the lonely man's never lonely anymore Quest For Peace God Almighty up above Bless us with your precious love. Hand in hand from sea to sea Sharing in perfect harmony. Hearts and souls do share in pain Soothe them with your sweet refrain. Even in the darkest night Fill our paths with heavenly light Talk To The Little Ones Talk to the little ones So they'll grow up to be Respected useful citizens In their community .