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Billy Lester

Pianist Billy Lester is a late-bloomer on that reticent branch of the jazz tree, the school of Lennie Tristano.

An instinctively lyrical yet unfettered improviser who creates original compositions from variations on classic American songs' chord changes, Lester -- like his mentor Sal Mosca, one of Tristano's most acclaimed students -- has developed his art almost in private. A youthful prodigy who was playing by age four, the soft-spoken, self-questioning Lester has taught piano for decades in his hometown of Yonkers just beyond New York City's limits, and devotes himself to family life. But with children now grown, at age 52 he's felt the yen to gig, and finds the public stage surprisingly rewarding.


Article: Liner Notes

Billy Lester: Unabridged

Read "Billy Lester: Unabridged" reviewed by Howard Mandel

Pianist Billy Lester is a musical original. That's obvious from the first, oh, 17 seconds of Unabridged, his sixth album and second all-solo recording. Listen to the unusual, brief motif with which Lester opens “Overture: Passionate Musings," then develops, complicates and completes it faster than you'd tie a shoelace. Pause--and he continues. Not to ...


Article: Radio & Podcasts

Piano Inside And Out: You Have To Be Modernistic

Read "Piano Inside And Out: You Have To Be Modernistic" reviewed by David Brown

Today, a survey of piano approaches from James P. Johnson to Dorothy Donegan to Satoko Fujii and lots of folks in between. This is piano jazz.Playlist King Fleming Trio “Junction City Blues" from Stand By (Argo) 0:00:30 Randy Weston “Boram Xam Xam" from Khepera (Verve) 0:04:01 Earl “Fatha" Hines “Blues in Thirds" from The ...


Article: Radio & Podcasts


Read "Pianoism" reviewed by Patrick Burnette

A great big heapin' helping of a certain blind pianist's work provides the anchor for this time's outing, as we look at one disc from six of a new box set and then fan out to look at a little known second-hand disciple of the great man along with two other stylists further removed. Pop matters ...


Article: Radio & Podcasts

Diana Krall & Marty Elkins

Read "Diana Krall & Marty Elkins" reviewed by Joe Dimino

The 707th Episode of Neon Jazz is heavy on vocalists and starts with New York singer Marty Elkins and bassist Mike Richmond with a cut from their latest album 'Tis Autumn. We also hear the vocals of Staci Griesbach, Diana Krall and Vanessa Tagliabue-Yorke. From there, we dig into new music from Mariel Bildsten, Julian Lage ...


Italy 2016

Label: Ultra Sound Records
Released: 2017
Track listing: An Evening With Friends; Yeah Man!; To Julia; Pop Pop Train; Consolidation; Omens.


Article: Album Review

The Billy Lester Trio: Italy 2016

Read "Italy 2016" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Piano trios jazz can charm or seduce, and occasionally mesmerize. In modern times, they can also rock the house, but they seldom jump out of the speakers at you with joy. The Billy Lester Trio,  Italy 2016, does just that. The initial impression of pianist Lester's influences--as the opener “An Evening With Friends" plays--is Bud Powell. ...



Label: Self Produced
Released: 2015
Track listing: Overture: Passionate Musings; Jamba Swing; One After Another; Blues for Charlie Christian; Spree-Ing; Songbook Harmony; Self-Encounters; Finale-3:43- Reprise.



Label: Coppens Records
Released: 2009
Track listing: G Minor Jazz; You Go To My Head; Out of Nowhere; Too Marvelous For Words; Everything Happens To Me; Just Friends.


Article: Album Review

Billy Lester: Visceral

Read "Visceral" reviewed by Francis Lo Kee

On this set of five standards and one original, pianist Billy Lester displays a strong original approach to jazz improvisation. He also leads a flexible, yet muscular trio, that moves along with him with telepathic skill. Lester has a wide range of approaches: single-note right-hand lines, dissonant block chords, left-hand bass runs that ...


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