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Blind Lemon Jazz | After Hours

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Jazz: Jazz Vocals Blues: Jazzy Blues Moods: Featuring Piano
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After Hours

by Blind Lemon Jazz

After hours in a late night club, a jazz quartet gets together to play old favorites until dawn. A ballad...some blues...maybe a show tune. A variety of songs - new entries in the American Songbook.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
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  Song Share Time Download
1. After Hours
3:22 $0.99
2. If Beale Street Was a Woman
4:08 $0.99
3. Rich People in Love
2:46 $0.99
4. How Can I Still Love You
5:45 $0.99
5. Bobby’s Blues
4:08 $0.99
6. Livin’ My Life with the Blues
2:53 $0.99
7. You Can’t Get There from Here
3:34 $0.99
8. Moon over Memphis
4:18 $0.99
9. Ketchup Spaghetti
3:56 $0.99
10. You Had Me at Goodbye
3:42 $0.99
11. Buddy Bolden’s Song
3:36 $0.99
12. Lights Out
3:33 $0.99
13. Blue Heartbreak
4:41 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

“Blind Lemon Pledge certainly is a national treasure what with his ability as a songwriter, singer and musician”…”this album is first-rate and a lot of fun. Something for all blues music lovers on this release. Very original. Very authentic. Very cool”…”as a lyricist Byfield is a master of his craft…the listener led on a guided tour of the various shades of Americana…for me, it is a masterpiece”…”this successor to the wonderful "Evangeline" again shows the variety which is key to James ‘Blind Lemon Pledge’ Byfield. As on that album, the music show shows that he is anything but stuck in one style. He easily switches decisively back and forth between a true multitude of roots music styles and variants..”

Since beginning his recording and performing career under the name Blind Lemon Pledge in 2009, James Byfield has garnered international airplay, critical recognition and awards for his stylistically diverse Blues and Americana influenced music. Sprinkled throughout his 6 albums have been a handful of his jazz influenced tunes. Long a fan of the American Songbook era of great songsmiths, Byfield has been writing his jazz tunes since his twenties when he first began to study jazz guitar and theory.

With his new album, “After Hours”, Byfield has created a uniquely retro set of songs and arrangements that showcase his love of jazz. In a break with the singer/songwriter tradition, Byfield has put together a session made up of some of the Bay Area’s best musicians to present the tunes in a whole new context. “I already knew what I would sound like performing the tunes; I wanted to hear what other musicians would bring to the lyrics, melody and feel. Since this is a jazz album, I was intrigued with the idea of putting together a ‘session’…old school. I have really enjoyed the process and the results.”

With the masterful Ben Flint on piano and soulful alto Marisa Malvino on vocals, the quartet is rounded out with the subtle stylings of Joe Kelner on drums and Peter Grenell on bass. Except for a final bonus track, James Byfield does not perform on this album; and, instead, fills the role of composer, arranger and producer. “I wanted to create the best showcase for my songwriting,” says Byfield.

With a set list made up of previously recorded tunes, unrecorded songs, and compositions created just for the record, the songs of James Byfield and Blind Lemon Jazz can now be enjoyed by jazz fans everywhere.

The album opens with the title track “After Hours”. A gentle, breezy tune, with a hint of Broadway and Irving Berlin, this song establishes both the setting and the mood for the album. We are in an after hours jazz club where a small combo is jamming on some favorite tunes. Composed specifically for the album, this tune lets us know that the album will be romantic in theme, spare in instrumentation, and lush in its musical arrangements.

In a radical shift that betides the many musical themes to come, “If Beale Street Was A Woman” kicks off the second spot…a “heavy” blues of the kind that Mose Allison might perform. Drawing on familiar blues idioms, Byfield creates a song that immediately transports you to Memphis and the moan of the Blues on a steamy night. He employs a rarer 1-2,1-2 Blues verse structure that he learned from the old Blues men like Son House and Muddy Waters. On his two piano solos, Ben Flint literally wails on some down home keyboard mastery.

In yet another mood and stylistic shift, “Rich People in Love” introduces a humorous and breezy romp that might appear in a Cole Porter musical. While humorous on the surface, the song is also a sly commentary on the gap between the rich and poor. Byfield’s lyrics and the lilting tune put us in a happy mood.

The mood grows darker in the smoky “How Can I Still Love You”. While eschewing the traditional blues structure, the song is still firmly rooted in the blues/jazz tradition. The lyrics are filled with wordplay, irony and a sometimes untraditional use of word meanings to create a haunting lost love ballad.

“Bobby’s Blues”, the fourth cut, explores the frustrations of unrequited love. The beautiful, lilting melody is amply served by the delicate piano and soulful vocals.

The mood shifts a bit playfully with “Livin’ My Life With the Blues”. Although it is a song about having the blues, the lyrical metaphors make the blues into a living being who is harassing the singer and won’t leave him alone. This is the first jazz song Byfield wrote after studying the Mickey Baker jazz guitar method.

“You Can’t Get There From Here” is a gospel tinged blues ballad, a bitter put down of a past lover.

The lovely and lilting “Moon Over Memphis” is almost a jazz waltz, wafting along on evocative lyrics and a gentle melody.

The album veers back into Cole Porter territory with the humorous, yet poignant, “Ketchup Spaghetti.” Set against a rollicking stride arrangement, it is the story of an eternal optimist who finds joy in his poverty.

“You Had Me at Goodbye” is a jazz pop ballad, a beautiful melody and lyrics.

There is one more sudden shift of mood into the powerful “Buddy Bolden’s Song.” Like a blast of traditional N’Orleans swing, this song pays tribute to the legendary Buddy Bolden, with a tune and arrangement reminiscent of the classic “St. James Infirmary.”

The album “finishes” with “Lights Out,” a soft and gentle ode to the San Francisco Bay and the message of love.

In a surprise coda, Byfield puts on his Blind Lemon Pledge shoes to deliver the sad “Blue Heartbreak.” Set against a sparse guitar and bass background, Byfield shifts the mood one more time in a cameo musical appearance that brings the project back to its originator.

With a signature diversity of styles, expertly crafted lyrics, and a swinging and compelling musical style, “After Hours” delivers a cornucopia of great jazz songs for the discerning listener.



to write a review

Joe Ross, Roots Music Report

A fine performance that emphasizes inventive writing
Based in the Bay Area, James Byfield (aka Blind Lemon Pledge) is a singer, composer, guitarist and music producer. He’s proven himself quite adept with prior releases ranging from blues to rock, folk to Americana. Now showcasing a new side to his eclectic musicianship, “After Hours,” subtitled “New Pages in the American Songbook,” features 13 of Byfield’s jazz compositions. His vision was to present the type of music one might have been heard at late night sessions in a Harlem club of the late 1930s and 40s. To that effect, he enlisted vocalist Marisa Malvino, pianist Ben Flint, bassist Peter Grenell and drummer Joe Kelner to bring these songs to life with vivacity and verve. The result is a fine performance that emphasizes inventive writing that’s just as emphatic as it needs to be. He combines eclectic tastes and wry humor into both nostalgic and contemporary messages. There are swinging numbers like “After Hours” and the witty “Ketchup Spaghetti” and “Rich People In Love,” as well as several that are soulful blues or evocative ballads that are delightful (e.g. “Bobby’s Blues,” “Moon Over Memphis,” “Livin’ My Life With The Blues,” “Buddy Bolden’s Song,” “If Beale Street Was a Woman”). In fairly conservative arrangements, Malvino’s relaxed warbling and Flint’s dynamic piano playing take the forefront. This is a well done album, restrained but still with moments of brilliance. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)