Jermaine Morgan launched his 2nd contest ‘Say It With Your Strings.’ Jermaine brought on 3 world renowned bassists to judge his contest, Damian Erskine, Adam Nitti and Robert Bubby Lewis who were all amazed at Leslie Johnson’s entry. The judges agreed hands down that Leslie had great use of space and melodic content to his smooth, groovin’, and excellent playing. We caught up with Leslie on his musical background:

BPU:How did you started playing bass?

LJ: I started playing piano at my local church when I was 15 and 3 years later the church’s bass player left, so we were 3 pianist and 2 drummers but no bass player, so I decided to give it a shot and I haven’t looked back since.

BPU:What was your first bass?

LJ:It was a 5-string Yamaha BBG5A.

BPU:Can you tell us a little about how you started playing bass?

LJ:I started self teaching myself, listening to a lot of music and trying to play those basslines, but after a couple of years playing I had the chance to go to a Music Academy where I learned harmony and theory and also to read music.

BPU:Did your parents have a musical background and how did they effect your playing?

LJ:My parents didn’t have musical background but still played a huge influence on my playing. They’ve been my biggest supporters and they taught me from the beginning that nothing in this world is achieved without effort and hard work.

BPU:Who have you played with and where are you now with your playing?

LJ:I’ve played with Vertical, Alvaro Lopez & Resq Band, singer Julio Melgar, Zaira, and some others singers. Presently I’m playing with a band called Renova, Sha’Vonne & The Vibe, and I’m in the middle of many other projects. I’ve been blessed to be part of many records as producer/bassist/composer but I only have one Spanish R&B/Gospel album called “Desesperado” Desperate)and I’m currently finishing my first instrumental album called “Bass&Beyond”. This one will be released in late October or November. It will feature some very special guests, such Nikki Glaspie, Alvaro Lopez and Eric Boseman among others.

What is the biggest thing to recommend any bass player at any level?

LJ:Listen and listen. When you start playing for everybody but yourself, you’ll start being more musical, and the other musicians will take you places you’ve never been musically!

BPU:What do you look for in a bass?

LJ:The Sound, it has to move me, the  playability as it has to feel smooth..and the price, and it has to move me and feel smooth.

BPU:Can you tell us about your gear?

LJ: I have three bass guitars.  A Fender Marcus Miller, A Modified Fender Jazz Bass, and a Yamaha TRB 5II. I’m a huge fan on Aguilar and SWR products and I have a variety of pedals ranging from Boss to TC Electronics.