HIS REAL NAME is Leslie Johnson, but blues fans know him as Lazy Lester, the Louisiana harmonica man best known for the recordings he made with Lightnin' Slim some thirty years ago. Listen to any of those recordings, or any Lester has made since, and you know how he came by his nickname. He's always relished an easy groove; nothing fancy, just the basics, thank you.

Ironically, he managed to recapture much of his old magic while visiting England recently, where he recorded his new album "Lazy Lester Rides Again." Produced by Mike Vernon, who helped put Fleetwood Mac and John Mayall on the map, the album finds Lester in typically laconic form. Among other things, he reprises some of his early hits (including both "Sugar Coated Love" and "I Hear You Knockin'," tunes that have since been covered by the Fabulous Thunderbirds) in a raspy, weathered voice, punctuated by muffled bursts from his harmonica.

That voice, while hardly powerful, is potent in its own world-weary way, particularly when the beat begins to lope on tunes like Jimmy Reed's "Can't Stand to See You Go." The arrangements also are consistently flattering, with subtle touches of slide guitar, a steady, unobtrusive beat and room enough, every now and then, for Lester to blow his harp like he did in his prime. --


"Lazy Lester Rides Again" (King Snake KS 007). Appearing Friday and Saturday at the Twist and Shout Club at the Bethesda American Legion.