Blind Lemon Jazz review…June 24, 2019…

BLIND LEMON JAZZ

AFTER HOURS

AFTER HOURS–IF BEALE STREET WAS A WOMAN–RICH PEOPLE IN LOVE–HOW CAN I STILL LOVE YOU–BOBBY’S BLUES–LIVIN MY LIFE WITH THE BLUES–YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE–MOON OVER MEMPHIS–KETCHUP SPAGHETTI–YOU HAD ME AT GOODBYE–BUDDY BOLDEN’S SONG–LIGHTS OUT–BLUE HEARTBREAK

It was a great pleasure and privilege to have been asked by James Byfield, the brains behind Blind Lemon Pledge, and now, Blind Lemon Jazz, to give him our thoughts,  as decidedly non-musicians, regarding his recent foray into American jazz.  We were made privy to the raw versions of the cuts that comprise his latest, “After Hours,” long before the final mixes were sent off, or the finished product readied.  James wrote ’em all, and he is on guitar and is the male vocal, with the lovely and talented Marisa Malvino on the female lead.  In the original mixes of these songs, the rhythm section was barely audible, but the finished product brings Peter Greenell on bass and Joe Kelner on drums into vivid focus.

These cuts are predominantly for and about lovers, either on the make, on the mend, or on the outs.  The title cut leads off, with Ben Flint’s piano swaying over Marisa’s vocal, “After Hours, the time is right for love.”  She revisits that theme toward the end of the set, with the Latin-tinged “Lights Out, and every lover wants to love the blues away.”

Lovers on the outs are the theme of “You Had Me At Goodbye,” while a light-hearted romp that looks at lifestyles of the rich and famous is “Rich People In Love,” again revved-up by Ben’s spritely keys work.  Marisa takes a long, hard look at some folks’ situations in their lives with her lovelorn “Livin My Life With The Blues.”  The set closes with our favorite.  It is done by ol’ Blind Lemon Jazz himself, with only his vocal and his acoustic guitar.  She’s gone and she ain’t comin’ back, and “Blue Heartbreak” becomes “just another name for blues!”  His poignant vocal is dead-on within the theme of this set, and gives it a perfect closure.

We literally have known these songs since their creation, and, now, thru the finished product.  James Byfield, as Blind Lemon Jazz in this case, expounds upon the Great American Songbook with this most-excellent offering, “After Hours.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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