Album Review of
After Hours

Written by Joe Ross
August 13, 2019 - 2:40am EDT
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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)