Pale Afternoon

Pale Afternoon coverJim Duffy, a Brooklyn-based composer and keyboardist, announces the release of "Pale Afternoon," his third full-length collection of moody and bouncy instrumental music.

The eleven tracks on "Pale Afternoon" each aim for a specific feeling. Duffy leads a small group from his 1960s Wurlitzer electric piano. Dennis Diken of the world-famous Smithereens is on drums, Paul Page, who tours the world with Ian Hunter, plays bass, and Lance Doss, who has toured and recorded with John Cale, plays guitar and lap steel.

 "We made this record very quickly, over a long period of time," Duffy  says. “We had minimal fuss and lot of fervor.”

The opening track, "Boulevard Six," careens forward in a minor-key groove in a 6/4 beat. From there, the tracks take sharp turns in mood and tempo. “Tenerife” has an aerodynamic, West Coast feel. On “Reverse Image,” Kevin Kendrick’s vibraphone provides icicle-like counter-melodies. “Sputare Il Rospo” hits hard at a quick pace, then Claire Daly’s baritone sax sends it over the top. After a few of these three-minute trips, you'll be ready to expect anything.

"Pale Afternoon" was recorded and mixed by Greg Duffin and Mario Viele at Cowboy Technical Services, in an analog format, recorded and mixed to tape. The tracks were mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Scott Hull. Warm and punchy is what it is.

Jim Duffy has long lurked behind various music scenes in New York, playing with some of the top performers in the rock, pop, jazz, ethnic and avant-garde worlds, including Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon, Wanda Jackson, the Fleshtones, the Bottle Rockets, Sour Jazz, the Damnwells, Reid Paley, Will Rigby, Speedball Baby and the eight-piece Persian-style psychedelic funk band Mitra Sumara, among many others. He co-founded the ‘80s Boston band Rods and Cones, and in the ‘90s he played with the New York band Martin's Folly.

For "Pale Afternoon," he draws upon his myriad influences and inspirations and his address book of fellow musicians. When we twisted his arm, he agreed, "OK, this is the best batch yet." 

Hear "Pale Afternoon" on Spotify

Mood Lit

With "Mood Lit," his second full-length release of moody and bouncy instrumental pop tunes, Jim Duffy moves closer to the front of the stage but remains off-center.

Duffy leads a small combo on piano and an early-1960s Wurlitzer electronic piano. Reference points include AM radio pop music, detective dramas, twilight falling on kitchenettes, lounge acts in their third set. But this is no retro affair. "Mood Lit" is sincere to a fault.

The sound is leaner than on Duffy’s first full-length release, "Side One," and the combo may be swinging a little harder. On drums is Dennis Diken of the world-renowned Smithereens. On bass guitar is Paul Page, who records and tours with Ian Hunter. On guitar and lap steel is Lance Doss, who has recorded and toured with John Cale.

Duffy and the combo perform with minimal fuss and a lot of fervor, starting with a head-turning version of Mose Allison's "Look Here," then rolling through eleven original tunes. On "Early Germ," they play in the area where twang meets soul. On "Free Formation," they demonstrate that they came up through the rock basements. "The Night Clerk" offers an eerie audio portrait. Then, on "Our Next Guest," the combo suddenly appears in matching gaudy blazers. What does Duffy think he's up to?

"If you don't notice it's instrumental, so much the better," he says.

The combo convened in a basement studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sound engineer Greg Duffin (no relation), who is often seen working the console on Regina Spektor's world tours, recorded and mixed "Mood Lit" in tube-warm analog sound.

"We made this record very quickly, over a long period of time," Duffy explains.

Kevin Kendrick of A Big Yes and a Small No adds an almost too-intimate vibraphone to "If You Insist." On "Memento Mori," Mac Gollehon's compact, punchy brass arrangement pushes the tune over the goal line. Claire Daly's baritone sax on "Balladeer" supplies a bright moment. On the title tune, "Mood Lit," Duffy makes an obligatory and, as he says, "almost involutary" nod to Burt Bacharach.

Jim Duffy has performed or recorded with rock-and-roll pioneers Wanda Jackson and Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon, as well as the Bottle Rockets, Reid Paley, Tandy, the Fleshtones, Speedball Baby, Bone-Box, the Damnwells, Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, Joe Flood, Will Rigby and many others. Duffy played keyboards in the band Martin's Folly and sometimes still does. Once upon a time, he played bass guitar in the Boston band Rods and Cones, and sometimes he still does that, too.

The Jim Duffy Combo, the core group of Duffy, Diken, Page and Doss, plus the occasional special guest, can sometimes be heard at the Lakeside Lounge on Avenue B in Manhattan and at other venues in the New York area.

Is Mood Lit good "make-out" music? Dim the lights and see for yourself.

-- Derek Shackwell-Smith

St. Cleve Chronicle

Hear "Mood Lit" on Spotify

Jim Duffy: Mood Lit

Side One

Side One coverSide One is Jim Duffy's first collection of instrumental pop tunes. It was released in 2005 and is available on Three Dots Records.

Jim Duffy, a Brooklyn-based keyboardist, presents a set of sparkling, original instrumental tunes. Duffy has been behind the scenes for a while now, playing in the band Martin's Folly and backing up the likes of Wanda Jackson, Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon, Eric Ambel, the Damnwells, the Bottle Rockets and many others. Now he steps out front with refreshing compositions played by some of New York's hardest-rocking musicians.

Side One is Duffy's first solo album. All the sounds were recorded in vintage analog stereo, for a warm texture that harkens back to the halcyon days of Burt Bacharach. The opening track, "Knowing What You Want," reaches for those heights with string passages by members of the Flux String Quartet, culminating in a soaring flugelhorn melody from Mac Gollehon. The concept was to scan the past 50 years of American pop music and do an original take on it, using musicians who came up through the rock basements.

Dennis Diken of the Smithereens plays drums on every track. Bassist Paul Page and Guitarist Lance Doss, both from John Cale's band, fill out the basic lineup. Jim Duffy leads with piano or an early-'60s Wurlitzer electric piano.

"Get Up for Ray," Duffy's take on a Ray Charles-type groove, rocks from side to side with a raucous saxophone arrangement. "Broken Field" harkens back to the dramatic soundtracks of NFL highlight films. If you listen closely to the creepy "Gentle Panic," you'll hear a musical saw. In the moody "Your White Raincoat," if you start flashing back to "Midnight Cowboy," well, who's to blame you? In the closing track, the flag-waving "Morning Rays," the band revs up a Booker T groove, then Gollehon lets it rip with a flying trumpet solo that brings it home in style.

The overall effect is bracing and unpredictable. Jim Duffy's Side One is suitable for parties of all sizes.

-- Derek Shackwell-Smith

St. Cleve Chronicle

Hear "Side One" on Spotify

Jim Duffy: Side One

Audio Playlist

Latest Release: "Pale Afternoon"

 The latest release  from Jim  Duffy is "Pale Afternoon," a  collection of 11  moody and bouncy  instrumental pop tunes. Buy CDs here.

Music Available

You can find Jim Duffy's music on CD Baby.

And on iTunes.

And on SoundCloud.

And on Spotify.

And on Amazon.

Some music tracks are now available on YouTube, both here and on the 3dotsmusic channel.

And on the music page of this blog. 

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