Friends of Lazy Lester – Lazy Lester Forever
Rock CD Records
14 songs, 44 minutes
The late great Lazy Lester was a singer, songwriter, harp blower, band leader, educator and innovator. The Louisiana legend created a legacy of eclectic music that drew many disciples from all over the world. Two accolades, Spaniard harp master Emilio Arsuaga and Austin based Blues legend Greg Izor have created a fittingly joyous homage to their friend in Lazy Lester Forever. Pulling together a group of “Friends of Lazy Lester,” Arsuaga and Izor have put together a collection of tunes, most of which written by Lester, that memorialize the diverse aspects of the master’s career.
This record is a family affair. Recorded in Austin, TX at Izor’s home studio this record is live and in the moment and has the ebullient feel of absolute monster players having fun. Guitarist Eve Monsees and her husband drummer Mike Buck were part of Lester’s band. Lester sang the song “Real Combination For Love,” which Izor absolutely slays on vocals here, at the couple’s wedding. Lester six stringer and Austin transplant Grady Pinkerton locks in with his former band-mates. Austin mainstays Emily Gimble on keys and vocals and Randy Glines on bass along with percussion work from Carlos Arsuaga, from Emilio’s band the Mad Reeds, round out the session.
In spite of all the camaraderie and selfless service to the songs, this record is clearly helmed by Arsuaga and Izor. Arsuaga takes the lead on 7 songs, one of which he wrote, and Izor 4, two of which he wrote. Arsuaga kicks off the proceedings with “I’m So Tired,” a chugging jump Blues plea for love and understanding. Izor’s rendering of the aforementioned “Real Combination for Love” smolders and has love’s soft caress. Izor’s original “Jail” is a simple guitar, harp, vocal piece that brings old school early Blues to the party, reminding the listener that Lucky Lester started out in a time when this type of music was still popular on the airwaves. Arsuaga’s early R&B doo-wop-ing of “I Love You I Need You” shows off the pop side of Louisiana music as well as Lester’s eclectic side. Arsuaga’s original tribute to Lester from his album I’m Here To Stay, “Thank You, So Long,” gets a harder Soul reading here that offers more jump to this mournful reflection on the loss of a dear friend.
Lazy Lester Forever is a fitting tribute to the innovative Blues pioneer from people who knew him in the second half of his life and revered him as the mentor he was. As fun and loose as this record is, it is recommended that listeners track down the original music that Arsuaga and Izor play individually. Their respective careers have been multifaceted and exceptional.
Similarly, as with any tribute album, it is recommended that listeners unfamiliar with Lazy Lester track down his music right away. You are in for a treat.