Jay Miller was the leading swamp blues producer. From the mid-fifties to the late '60s, his recordings were standing for the inimitable sound of the Excello masters. The Excello sides possessed matchless coolness that could not be reproduced outside of Louisiana. Until now ... Lazy Lester's late work was recorded in Notodden, Norway (Europe's secret blues capitol) with local guys. The band really knows how to play behind Lester, how to keep pace with his way of singing and playing. Furthermore, the recordings are containing this certain Southern flair and smell one would only expect in an old studio in Crowley, Louisiana. And, last not least, Lester is in good shape. A great, great album. Highly recommended to all fans of the real deal, Southern style. LAZY LESTER - voc/hca/gtr, MORTEN OMLID - gtr, JENS OLAV HAUGEN - bass, ESKIL AASLAND - drums. Special guest: ESPEN FJELLE - kbds.
Article properties: Lazy Lester: You Better Listen (CD)
Lazy Lester, born Leslie Johnson on June 20, 1933 in Torras, Louisiana, played harmonica and guitar and recorded for producer Jay Miller. His fantastic 1950s and 1960s sides were released on the famous Nashville-based Excello Records label, owned by Ernie Young.
Besides recording under his own name, Lazy Lester contributed to recordings by Lightnin’ Slim, Slim Harpo and Katie Webster, a.o. He will always be remembered for writing such beautiful Louisiana blues classics as ’I'm a Lover Not a Fighter,’ ’I Hear You Knockin', ’ and ’Sugar Coated Love. ’
By accident, Lazy Lester found himself a seat on a bus sitting next to Lightnin’ Slim who was on his way to a 1956 Excello recording session. The scheduled harmonica player for the session didn’t show up, so Lazy Lester could step in. Jay Miller was impressed by Lester’s cool, laidback style of playing the harmonica and recorded him as solo artist. He also used the multi-instrumentalist – Lester could play guitar, harmonica, bass and percussions - in sessions for other Excello artists.
Lazy Lester wrote great tunes, but most of his songs were credited to Jay Miller, or to Miller and Lester. He only only received few royalties, he stated and gave up on the music industry by the late 1960s and he took over manual work. In 1971 promoter Fred Reif organized a show with Lightnin’ Slim, and Lester was brought in to perform with his former partner. Lazy Lester was back on the scene! For the next three decades or so he played in the US and Europe, usually backed by pick-up bands. Record labels like Alligator, Telarc and Ace Records (UK) recorded him again, and once again Lester became an integral part of the international blues circus.
Among others the Fabulous Thunderbirds, the Flamin' Groovies, Dave Edmunds, Dwight Yoakam, the Kinks, Anson Funderburgh and Freddy Fender recorded his songs. Most recently, Lester lived with his girlfriend in Paradise, California, he occasionally appeared at festivals and in documentary films. Lazy Lester died of cancer August 22, 2018. He lived to be 85.