“I moved to New York two years ago and played my first Singer-Songwriter Sessions show shortly after my arrival. Originally I thought it would be a good place to “get started” here in NYC. With a great mix of young and experienced talent, fantastic sound, and the unbeatable Bitter End vibe, I now find myself returning to play the Singer-Songwriter Sessions time and
Bassist/vocalist John Lester’s latest release “Jazz?” sets ten modern rock songs into a late 1950’s jazz context and brings together John’s love for both great contemporary songwriting and the open improvisation of a jazz quartet. Released on October 2nd, the new album steadily climbed the JazzWeek charts, entering the Top 100 on the JazzWeek charts in November and reaching #13 on the Roots Music Report jazz chart.
“Singer/bassist John Lester strikes me as someone who knows how to tell the story, allowing the listener to hear these old songs in compelling new ways. That’s what jazz and good songs do best.” – Bob Rogers, taintradio.org – JazzWeek’s Internet Station of the Year 2011
“Jazz?” redefines songs such as Mr. Jones (Counting Crows), Money (Pink Floyd), and Typical Situation (Dave Matthews Band), setting them into relaxed straight ahead grooves and opening up the tunes for the players. John stays true to the original vocal melodies with his smoky baritone and lays down steady walking bass lines reminiscent of the Cool Jazz period. His quartet tackles Tori Amos’ “God” as a quadruple time up tempo swing and “Evenflow” by Pearl Jam, is driven by a ferocious jazz-funk groove. The once rocking “A Letter to Elise” by The Cure, is slowed to a soft ballad, creating room for the sensitive Robert Smith lyric.
John is an award winning songwriter who has, throughout his career, had one foot in jazz and the other in folk/rock/acoustic music. As a writer, John was awarded the “Song of the Year Award” from The West Coast Songwriter’s Association on two occasions and the title track from his 2007 release, So Many Reasons, was the winner of the WCS International Songwriting Award.