“Whether you regard him as an acoustic singer-songwriter, a soulful vocalist,
or a superb and innovative bassist, his talent is undeniable.”
John is an award winning songwriter who has, throughout his career, had one foot in the folk/rock/acoustic music scene and the other in jazz. As a writer, John was awarded the “Song of the Year Award” from the West Coast Songwriter’s Association on two occasions (in 1999 for The Ways of a Woman and 2001 for Both a Blessing and a Curse). The title track from his 2007 release, So Many Reasons, was also the winner of the WCS International Songwriting Award for “Best Jazz Song” and he also won their “Best Humorous Song Award” for his tongue-in-cheek ditty, Beware La Merde, about a bit of advice to tourists in Paris.
“John doesn’t just have a great voice…he is a voice. Great songs that really communicate!”
- Russ Jennings, KPFA
As a solo performer, John has created a unique show featuring his 100-year-old upright bass named Sarah (after Sarah Vaughan, for her lovely vocal-like quality). He also plays acoustic and electric bass guitars, as well as nylon string guitar, at times utilizing his instruments and a loop recorder to create live tracks for his songs and improvisations.
“Lester’s USP is his supreme mastery of all possible varieties of basses and his use of them as lead instruments…his understated virtuosity demands attention!”
- Maverick Magazine
John has released three albums of original material: “Live at the Freight and Salvage” in 1999, “Big Dreams and the Bottom Line” in 2003, and “So Many Reasons” in 2007. John’s 2012 release, “Jazz?”, set ten modern rock cover songs into a late 1950’s jazz context and brought together John’s love for both great contemporary songwriting and the open improvisation of a jazz quartet. Released on October 2, 2012, the album steadily climbed the JazzWeek charts, entering the Top 100 in November 2012 and reaching #80 in January 2013. It also reached #13 on the Roots Music Report jazz chart.
“His takes on rock and pop standards with great jazz sensibility and penchant for swing, make this a wonderful and fresh approach in the canon of improvised music. “
- Jim Bennet, KCSM
John recently released a new live acoustic album with Irish singer-songwriter-guitarist Paul Tiernan on January 20, 2015. John and Paul have been touring together as a duo since 2005 after meeting at the Rocheforte en Accords festival in France. The new album, entitled “Paul Tiernan and John Lester – LIVE”, was recorded on their first US tour together last spring and includes seven songs by each artist.
“The interaction that goes on between them, both overtly and covertly, is something that’s subtle and sensational, voices and instruments intertwining and blending to weave songs of influence and poise”.