John Lester "Jazz?" Quartet
John Lester has had one foot set in rock with the other solidly set in jazz since he began playing at age 14. These two distinct paths have now converged with the October 2nd, 2012 release of his 4th independent CD, John Lester Quartet “Jazz?”. The album, which was recorded in London and mixed in New York, is a collection of influential rock songs performed as improvisational jazz. “Jazz?” features John on vocals and upright bass with Steve Lodder on piano (Carla Bley, Ernestine Anderson, Paul McCartney), Theo Travis on sax and flute (Robert Fripp, Davide Sylvian, Steven Wilson), and Davide Giovannini (Roy Hargrove, John Scofield, Steve Winwood, and Bjork). As evidenced from the breadth of experience, all players are versed in both the jazz and rock genres.
The album was well received by jazz radio, staying on the charts for over 6 months after it's release. “Jazz?” broke into the JazzWeek Top 100 in November 2013, reaching #80 in January 2013, and was a Top 10 Vocal Jazz album. Here’s what a few stations have to say about it:
“His album ‘Jazz?’ combines his experience as a singer and songwriter with his love for open ended improvisation. His takes on rock and pop standards, with great jazz sensibility and penchant for swing, make this a wonderful and fresh approach to the canon of improvised music”.
- Jim Bennet, KCSM
“Most standards began as what we now refer to as covers...the shifting tides of pop culture have washed away many of Tin Pan Alley’s masterpieces… but on his fourth release as a leader, bassist and singer John Lester has smartly updated the concept, using more contemporary hits for “Jazz?”
- JazzTimes Magazine (June 2013)
“Jazz?” is one of the most compelling albums I've heard, from the first note to the last.”
- Eric Cohen, WAER, Syracuse, NY
“Singer/bassist John Lester strikes me as someone who knows how to tell a 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
“A number of artists have recently undertaken jazz covers of pop and rock tunes, but the Lester effort stands out for it’s thoughtful song selection, it’s quality of swing, and Lester’s fine singing.”
- Jack Hopke, WWNO, New Orleans
“Lester more than successfully bridges the gap between contemporary pop and jazz, and in the process combines the genres to create a solid, swinging whole. The best of both worlds!”
- Rick McCarthy, WICN, Jazz Plus for New England
"To those who say Jazz is Dead: You haven' t heard John Lester."
- Jon Norton, GLT Jazz